Vegetable Garden Plot

Pre-gardening Planning Tips

Here is a list of things I do in getting ready to garden. This is by no means the best way, but a few tricks and tips that I have learned along the way. If you have some secret gardening tips, let me know.

Looking at last years garden layout

Even gardening in Northern California I have an end or pause to the gardening season where much of the garden is resting. Before I start working on the garden I take a look at the gardening map that I used during the growing season. I print it out as a reference. Before plangarden, I used to do this in a paint program and it was painful. But studying what you have done help you plan for the next season.

Rotating Crops

Plant any vegtables from the same family in the different region. After that I don't follow all the common wisdom about exactly what crop should follow what crop, but I do use the last garden map to determine what fertilizer I should use. If the last plant was a heavy nitrogen user, then if I don't plan on plating a legume there I make sure to add nitrogen fertilizer; blood meal or fish emultions, compost, vermicompost.

Fertilize with organic fertilizers early

If I have done the steps above and I know somewhat of what will go into an area of the garden for next year, I start to amend the soil. First I add some compost and till or turn it into the soil. Then I add any fertilizers that I think might be needed (sometimes I test the soil if it has been a while since I looked at the soil composition). If I plan on planting something from the cole family, I always will throw in some Blood meal for nitrogen.

Mulching and pre-weeding

For areas in the garden that I am not planning to use for long time I try to place 2-5 inches of grass mulch over the area. When I am ready to plant I then till or turn it into the ground. If there are already some weeds poking up, I try to quickly cut them down so the grass will burn the recovering plant. If you don't have enough grass mulch and you live in a neighborhood, you can always ask neighbors, but make sure that they don't use nasty chemical. Where I live some of our neighbors use one gardener and I have him dump his weekly grass clippings. Since he works several yards at once, I get a variety without having to bug lots of neighbors.

Seedling advice

If I have learned one thing it is not to skimp on planting seedlings. Start more than you want and if you don't have any failures and you don't have any room, then destroy the extras after you are sure that you have passed the danger of bugs, birds or vermin killing small plants.