Prepping the Soil
I should have mentioned in Part 1 we didn’t always use raised beds and planted right in the ground we still do this but raised beds make maintenance much easier you can use much of this information for in ground planting as well as raised beds.
First thing we do usually around mid to end of February is turn the soil since we tilled it back in the fall we only use a fork and turn it then add some compost about 3 to 6 inches and the work it in for us compost is all that is needed and because we raise chickens, goats, sheep, a milk cow and a bunch of rabbits we don’t have a problem with making compost. We just keep mixing it up with sawdust, leaves, grass clippings, old bedding and
all that manure let it rot and we have compost. All of our raised beds are also giant worm beds I never have a problem with finding bait to fish we have thousands of Night Crawlers and Red Worms in those boxes.
You can add what ever you like to your soil just try to keep away from the chemical fertilizers. Depending on the type of soil before moving to our current location we in an area that was sandy with heavy alkali we added gypsum, lots of manure from a nearby dairy farm and along with our homemade compost our soil got better each year we grew everything from asparagus and tomatoes to beans, cabbage and corn. Our current location has acidic soil mostly due to all the trees what a difference a couple hundred miles makes we just throw in some lime with our compost and we’re good to go.
Get a soil test done if you’re not sure you should be able to get this done from your local extension service you can also get soil test kits at garden centers or you can or from here or get a professional soil analysis here. Once you get your soil tested add the nutrients needed and your ready to plant. To be honest I’m not sure all that is necessary compost will usually do the trick.
Irrigation and Water
Like everything gardens don’t live without water no matter how you get the water to it this is the most important part of keeping your garden healthy, you can flood irrigate drag out hoses or carry buckets personally I like drip gets the water right down to the roots. We use mostly T Tape
This stuff works great just make sure you use landscape staples every few feet to hold it when the wind blows. I get mine from Drip Depot
Starting and Planting
We start tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, winter squash, melons and cabbage indoors in our area around April 1 and transplant from Mothers Day up to mid June cabbage we get out around May 1 check with a local gardener or farmer to find the best time to put out plants in your area.
We use a mix of compost, perlite for our starting medium egg shells work great for starting seeds put half a shell in an egg carton put in starting soil add seed water and cover we use one gallon milk or water jugs with the bottom cut out place in a sunny place, once the seeds germinate and come up we move the egg shell to a larger container usually peat pots so we can plant those right in to our beds.
We plant salad greens, peas and other cool season crops in late February and early March right in to the beds and continue to plant right through the growing season.
We plant potatoes right in the ground mid April we dig a trench put in our seed potatoes and cover when they get big enough to have 3 or 4 leaves we cover them and then repeat the process one more time when we dig our potatoes they are in three layers with new potatoes in the top layer.
Do the research for the area you live in to find the best time for you to plant. Once you have your garden in water, weed and enjoy.
We have a whole new post planned for the fall on Harvesting and preserving if you have questions please use the comments section or the contact forms.