Gardening

Hi Everyone, Gardening. 
  Today we are going to talk about gardening.  The spring time is the normal time that you do your garden. But in reality it isn't the best time to start you garden for the following season.  Fall is the best time to start your garden. So we are going to talk about how you can do this and have a fantastic garden for next summer.
  First lets start right here, today.  I am guessing that you are starting to have bare spots in your garden spot. Those crops have run their course and you have enjoyed them. I am also betting that your clear cut and cleaned up the spot and it is all bare just setting there waiting for next year.  For starters lets not haul that residue off to the dump.  That is just throwing money away. All of the stuff that comes off needs to go into a compost pile. In the past I have explained how to make one of these types of compost piles, but I have to not explain it here and now as that ends up being a long discussion in and of itself. So I will find that one article, and post it again. But for now, lets move on. 
  Let us move forward on the assumption that you have this big area that is your garden area and it is bare, just itching for you to do something with it. So since it is asking us to d spend some time with it we will make it happy. Now that it is bare, you will need to decide where you are going to plant your favorite plants. Lets say you like carrots.  Beets will do just fine as well as peas, etc. You are going to make a furrow where you will eventually plantthe seeds. You will make it several inches deep because we are going to put some material in there. Eventually you will plant on top of this material in a shallow furrow, directly over the top of the furrow that you made last fall (presently now). However, we need to discuss how this furrow is going to be filled in. This furrow is about 2 to 3 inches deep. 

So first we are going to put some course material in there, maybe a 1/2 to 1inch deep. Some of this has to do with the kind of soil that you already have and what that soil needs. This might be sand, or various soil additives, such as peat, etc. Then we are going to come in on top of that with some more material. I think it is a good idea to add some horse manure. Most of the time horse manure is mostly undigested hay, but it is best if it has been composted.  The reason for composting is that it kills any of the weed seeds that might be in the feed that the horse has ingested. Then you are going to get some of that "magic dirt" that we have.  For those that don't know what that is, just ask me what that stuff is. Fantastic material for plant growth. You can also add some various micro nutrients that might be needed in you local area that might not be needed in another area. This might be Born, Zinc, Copper, Iron, etc. That would only be a trace amount of those. Just go with the organic form of them if possible. You will get better results. Then we are going to put in some nitrogen source.  This will help to break down the other material and prepare the seed bed for an idea medium for your plants to thrive. It is a good idea to use some green manure of some sort.  This is something like some plant material that is composted, even some green chopped up garden produce/plants, etc.  This will provide for a nitrogen source and a carbon source. Both are necessary for good growth. You are not going to pack the material, as you want it to be loose so that oxygen can get through the micro cracks in the soil and get to the roots.

You can also use rabbit pellets for a nitrogen source in this application. When I say rabbit pellets I mean the kind that goes in the front end of the rabbit. Although the kind that comes out the rear are very good as well. The reason for this is that rabbits require a wide range of nutrients and yet,  they pass most of them through.  So in the feed or manure you have a lot of plant nutrients.  Once you do this then you will cover the furrow with all of this material in it and lightly rake soil over it to smooth it. You will come along next spring and make a shallow furrow right on top of this furrow filled in with material that you did last fall. You will plant your seeds in this new furrow. The seeds will root into this material that has over wintered and allowed nature to prepare it for the new plants to use. This will provide a good solid food source for your plants next summer. You can make a furrow next to the seed bed as you would if you were to water it with surface irrigation. Even in areas where rain fall or sprinkling is the water source, you can make this furrow as it will provide for a trench to hold water to be peculatedinto the surrounding soil for a good moisture profile in the surrounding soil. After you do this fall work, the only time you are going to touch the soil afterwards is to make the furrow to plant in and to maybe clean the furrow out for watering. You will want to retain the crust that will be formed over the winter.  This makes for a difficult environment for the weeds to grow in. Yes they will grow, but they will be delayed, giving most garden plants a head start over the weeds. Weed seeds can lay dormant in the soil for, by some accounts, 30 years. So if you leave them in the soil by not bring them to the surface in the spring, you will make life much easier for you. Now by starting the process now, in the fall, you will have pulled some seeds to the surface or there will be some there anyway. This is great, because you will water the garden, just as you would if you were growing your garden in the summer. The weeds will grow, But guess what?  They won't have time to go to seed, they will freeze down, you just weeded your garden for next year. Since you aren't going to be turning up the soil next spring, there won't be any or will be very few weed seeds to sprout. 
 

Now for those that are growing plants that are not normally done in rows. You can plant these plants in their own container, if you will, right in the soil or in the container if that is the way you are doing things. So for plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons, etc., that you pant on wide spacing and in distances between plants, you will do things differently.  There is no need to prepare a long furrow filled with material for these plants. What you will do is decide where you are going to plant these plants, spacing, etc.,   Then dig a hole, like a shallow post hole. If you have access to a tractor and a post hole digger, life will be easier for you. Anyway, you will dig a hole about 1 1/2to 2 feet deep. You will make a mix of what ever material that you are goingto use for food for the plant, along with some of the soil that came out of the hole and place it back in the hole.  Then put a few inches of soil over the top of that. You are going to want some water to get into that hole. Remember that water is necessary for the whole thing to work in the breaking down and conversion of the raw material/food that you have placed in the hole. But at the same time you don't want too much water as that will leach out the nutrients and you don't want that. 
   For those doing container gardens, you will follow the above procedure and then give it some water now and then to keep the soil hydrated. Later on the frost will come along and this does wonders for the soil. It will really do a number on the bugs that might be in the soil that could cause you problems next summer. It also opens up the soil between the particles of the soil so that oxygen and carbon from the air and get to the roots once the soil warms up. The frost will also help to break up any soil compaction that you may have.  If you want to be daring, once the soil begins to get fairly cold, before frosting, you can plant some of the seeds that you would normally plant in the early spring, that are somewhat frost tolerant.  That way the sees will grow on natures time table as they get the signals to grow in the early spring. Some people even plant tomatoes this way. some people will just plant a slice of tomato in the soil. Although this requires close attention in the spring, so that if the plants start to grow, and there is still a frost danger, you can place a hot house on them for protection. Plants grown under these conditions tend to be very hardy and produce remarkably well through out the whole season. Care must be taken to pick healthy seeds and to avoid the GMO types, many of the Hybrids and so on. As these tend to not do as well under these conditions despite claims to the contrary. 
  A good time to buy seeds is in the fall. Many times the seeds will be discounted as the suppliers will want to clear out the stocks for the next year's offerings. This also ensures that you have a good seed supply for the next year. Germination rates might go down a little bit on some of them, but it really isn't that big of a concern, if the seeds are healthy and have come from healthy plants. 
  Now this is a general idea of what you can consider doing for your gardening. The result will be some very tasty produce and you will have an abundance of that produce. By doing this type of gardening you will have more time to enjoy the spoils of your hard work. 
  Than you for for considering this type of system and above all, thank you for your time. Let me know how it works out for you and as always if you have questions, you are free to visit with me.