With a heat wave wiping through the Midwest this week and the extra hour of sunlight, I am on the edge of my seat as I pray there will be no more days below 32 degrees (Fahrenheit for all you metric system peeps). Because as soon as you have a day above 60 degrees it means it’s summer, right? I wish. But lo, I live in Nebraska so it will indeed get below freezing again. I will just bask in the warmth for now and plan for preparing my soil and what materials I will need for the upcoming planting season.
Because my garden will be new this season, there is a bit more work involved to make the ground ready for seedlings.
I’m Jordan is going to have to take out the grass and pull out any left over weeds (just kidding, I’ll help!). Then, because the soil hasn’t been disturbed we will till about a foot down. Tilling up undisturbed soil is important for gardens because your plants need to be well drained and aerated for them to thrive. I am thankful Jordan’s family owns a tiller because with the size of our garden, that would be A LOT of work. If you don’t have a tiller at home, you can always rent one for a few hours at your local hardware store. I know Home Depot and Lowes definitely rents them out, but it is common for smaller hardware stores to rent them out if you don’t live near a Home Depot or Lowes. And if you can’t do that, or your garden is of a smaller size, you can always double dig. Double digging is where you dig about a foot down and a foot wide in a row down the length of your garden. You place the dirt from your first row off the side, and when you move to your second row (besides your first), you place the dirt into the first row. This continues down the line until you’re done.
It is also common to add organic matter (or store bought planting soil) within the rows as you double dig.
This brings me to the next thing on the list to have prepared for your garden: compost. Composting takes quite a bit of time as the matter you place into it needs to decompose so this would be something you would want to start months before you plant (depending on the size of your compost). I have planned a post completely dedicated to composting so we will go more in depth with it then. For our garden, we’re going place the composting materials in as we’re tilling, along with some planting soil from the store because we don’t have enough compost for the entire garden.
As you plan your garden, you may come across many different ways to create your garden bed: raised bed, standing garden bed, or in-ground. Ours is going to be an in ground because we don’t have enough compost, and don’t want to buy the amount of planting soil it would take to fill a raised bed. If you did want a garden bed that was above ground, another material you want to plant for is creating your borders. This can be done with wood, concrete blocks, bricks, or anything you can find that will separate your plants from the un-tilled soil surrounding it.
Ensuring your precious plants are protected from pests you also need to plan for some sort of deterrent; in my case I’m using left of chicken wire from my garden last summer because it seemed to work nicely. I will just have to be sure to get some wooden stakes to staple the chicken wire on. How are you going to protect your garden?
As you can see, there are a lot of choices to make and materials to buy before you start planting. I didn’t even mention plant supports, materials for paths, mulch or rocks for the top layer, or weed barriers. These are some more of the many choices you have when creating a garden.
A lot of gardening is learning by doing and by making mistakes, but that is what makes a gardener prideful in watching his or her work bloom; knowing you have faced and overcome trials along the way. But I do hope that you will consider some of these things before you take that shovel to the ground to save yourself some initial frustration!