By now everyone is about finished with their gardens for the year. Well except for those of you in the wild down under land. So you just need to go back to the Garden Tips of the 2nd. Quarter of 2021. If you are confused, just jump on the merry-go-round and see where you end up.
I would hope that you did not haul your residual plant material from your garden off to the land fill. If you did, you just threw away a lot of money. The best deal for that material is to compost it and then apply the material next year. In simple terms is inoculates your garden soil against any pathogens that were thinking about haunting you next year. Plus, you have the fertilizer values there as well.Anyway, time to move on.
Generally, this is the best time to begin preparations for next year. The main reason for making all of the preparations that you can make right now is that it allows for all of the microbes to do their jobs more thoroughly. These things do not work like an instant magic trick at the flick of a wand. They need the time and stability to do their magic in the soil while you are in down time.
Do you like weeds? I doubt that you do. The best thing that you can do for the weeds is to broadcast the nutrient inputs. Think about this; Most of your garden plants are in rows, right? Does all of the area between those rows need to be fertilized? Isn't that where the weeds grow? So here is an idea to solve that issue. After you have prepared the soil for planting. Now keep in mind that we are going to be ready to only have to plant the seeds next spring. So just pretend that we are getting ready to plant. The soil has been prepared. So at this point you mark off your rows, maybe run a string along that line so you make it all straight and tidy. Then think about the seeds that you are going to plant there. If you are doing a seed that requires you to plant it 1 inch deep, for example. Then make another row 2x that distant from the seed row. Then mark that new row. Do this on both sides of the seed row. We will call these the fertilizer rows. Then make a new furrow along that fertilizer line, make it 4 inches deep. Then apply your fertilizer in that furrow. Then cover it back up and smooth the soil over that newly covered row. Leave the marker in place or make sure you know, by whatever method works for you, where you plan to plant the seeds, next spring. The formula for this method is to take the desired seed planting depth, times it by 2. that is how far away from the row you will go. Then 4 times the seed planting depth is how deep you will make the fertilizer deposits. If you are placing the seed just below the soil as in only slightly covering the seed, then use the rule of 1 inch horizontally and 2 inches vertical for the nutrient/fertilizer row. What you are attempting to do is to use the seed's natural seeking ability to sense out the food source and to have the roots develop downward. This will allow the plant to develop a stronger root system and seek water from a lower depth. Also, it deprives the weeds from a rich food source. You will save water and not need as much nutrient/fertilizer as would be needed in a broadcast application. Don't get me wrong, there are times when the broadcasting method is the best choice, such as planting grass, etc. But with a garden, we are talking about rows.
Also, by preparing the soil and getting everything ready for planting, the natural course of things will cause a a crust, if you will, on the soil. Anywhere that crust is, it will make any weed seed that is close enough to the surface to germinate, have a hard time doing so and will likely not survive to see the light of day. Every time you turn the soil, you are pushing weed seeds down for safe keeping and bringing older seeds up so they can germinate. Also, by broadcast nutrient application, you are helping them by feeding them. When the nutrients are placed in the rows, deep down, so to speak, it deprives the surface weeds of a food source. Then only the garden seeds will be at the feeding trough, or shall we say feeding furrow? This will make for a very pleasant and rewarding garden experience the following year. Plus a lot less work all around and more time to actually enjoy your garden.
What about the container gardening people? You people would follow the very same concept as the typical gardener would. Only on a different scale. Although with containers, you would not have all of the extra space for weeds to grow, so with the containers, you would just make sure the nutrient furrow would be pretty much the same as to seed depth, horizontal 2 times the depth and the vertical from that nutrient furrow, 4 times the seed planting depth. If you find yourself in the situation where your container won't allow for this type of an application, then maybe your container is too small. It might be best if you looked at larger container. But all is not lost, you can find a plant that will fit that small container. Flowers are a good fit for these very small type of containers. But for vegetables, they need more soil for their root systems to properly develop and function. In my experience, a five gallon bucket works best. Any smaller, the plants really struggle. But some plants like green onions and radishes will be OK in smaller than a five gallon bucket. If you find yourself working with something different than the 2 situations that I have described, then just adjust and do the best you can. You will be surprised as how forgiving the plants will be when they find themselves in unique situations.
I want to share with you my own unique situation. In the early stages of my life I went to school and became a diesel and heavy equipment mechanic. I worked with farm machinery for years, then moved up the ladder and eventually ended up with a couple of those 4 year degree things that we are suppose to get along the way. One of those degrees claim that I am suppose to be knowing something about Agriculture Technology. However, nothing takes the place of watching a seed pop up through the soil and develop into something really is amazing. One of the most amazing things of life, I say. Even then, my love is still playing in the soil and raising food. Anyway, I was able to buy, at a machinery auction, a specialized piece of machinery that will allow me to mechanically apply the nutrient furrow on both sides of the seed row. Of course the machine is used, but in mint condition. Normally when new, it would cost about 10k but I got it for 275 bucks. No one at the auction knew what it was used for, except for me. So that will help me to do my gardening in a much better way. I have always struggled with the back yard garden idea. Yes, I have had successful gardens and disaster gardens over the years, but when I do it big time in a farm field, there is always so much food that I have to beg people to take the stuff. The one crop I love the most is potatoes. Seems like if you have a good crop of spuds, it means everything is going to be good for the next year. As to the labor aspect. I have a lot of grand kids, so it won't hurt them to pick spuds for a day, lol.
I have also been working on a new project. I was building a mobile unit, a trailer with rabbit pens. I did the idea that way so I could move the facility under a shade tree in the summer time. But one day I got looking at it and said to myself, this isn't what I want, I didn't want to have that many rabbits, right now. So I did a few minor changes and now it is a mobile greenhouse. I am almost finished with it. It will allow me to do some visual instructions with this stuff, so next year, I can be of better service to you in doing this stuff. I will even do some straw bale gardening in there, sprouts, and all kinds of other methods. So exciting stuff, at least for me.
The following books are suggested reading and some material was obtained and adapted from some of these books in preparation of this discussion: Straw Bale Solutions, by Joel Karsten. The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible, by Edward C. Smith. Gardening With Less Water, by David A. Bainbridge., Compost, by Fletcher Sims., Agriculture in Transition and From the Soil Up, the latter two books are by Donald L. Schriefer.
Anyway, I hope you can make some of this happen for you. Then you can set back and enjoy the dreaming of what you are going to plant in next year's food production and gardening endeavor. The next Gardening Tips will be in January 2022.
End of Discussion.