Dana’s big gardening adventure – week four: preparing the site

April 18, 2008

According to my reading, preparing the site for your garden is one of the most crucial steps to ensuring your veggies have a chance to succeed.

My garden is well established but has been fallow for at least three years. During that time my habit has been to dump all the leaves, cuttings and weeds from the rest of the yard into this space. When weeds have sprung up my landscaper has tilled them under with the Rototiller. I have a feeling that my soil is going to be very rich in organic matter but also thickly populated by weeds. So, as soon as the mud will allow, I’m going to put on my gloves, grab my hoe and pull out any little shoots that are popping up.

I’ve been told that the best technique is to till the soil in the fall so that you’re all set up in the spring and can plant earlier. However, I didn’t know I was going to use this vegetable patch last fall so
I’m going to use a Rototiller this spring to break up the soil and make it easier to weed and plant (actually my mom’s boyfriend John has offered to till the garden for me if I make sure there aren’t any big stones in it first – thanks John!). I was told by a knowledgeable farmer friend that tilling too often – especially in spring – should be avoided since it forces organic matter that needs surface bugs to be broken down too far below the surface. Regrettably, I’ll have to take that chance since my soil is pretty compacted.

In the meantime, while I wait for the mud to be less squishy, I’m busy inside nurturing and transplanting my seedlings to larger pots so that I can have nice robust plants ready when planting day arrives.

I planted my seedlings in peat moss not just because it’s recommended as a good starter, but also because it was the only soil I could find at the garden centre this early in the spring that didn’t contain any chemicals. Shocking, no?

I bought way too much peat moss, though. To plant all my corn, cantaloupes and pumpkins (that’s one seed starter kit worth of cells) I thought I’d need three 9 L bags of peat moss. I didn’t even use one full bag! No matter. I’ll soon have tomato plants to transfer and it will come in handy then.