Preparing for the spring vegetable garden

Now that winter is running out, it’s time to turn our thoughts to spring and vegetable gardens.

We plan and plan what we will grow and where and when to plant it. The list also includes making sunken beds, beds and containers. And it’s time to start some seeds indoors, take others into the still cold soil, and look for local nurseries and online businesses for seedlings we can plant if the weather warms up. (And here you thought February was a slow month!)

At last month’s Gardening 101 webinar, Contra Costa gardener Janet Miller and I scratched the garden surface, but there’s a lot more to be said. So let’s start with how to prepare the soil for planting. (At the end of the story, you’ll find links to other gardening topics and the recorded webinar.)

Location, place, place

Are you thinking of planting a vegetable garden this year? For spring and summer vegetable gardens, Miller says you need to choose the sunniest place in the yard. Popular vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers, need eight hours of sunlight a day.

Still, there is too much sunshine. If your yard is very hot and sunny, you may need to protect your plants with a shading cloth, a special material that allows a certain percentage of sunlight to pass through your plants. Don’t use a shade stronger than 50 percent, Miller says, anything that is more opaque can deprive plants of important light.

A shading cloth can help prevent scalding or sunburn on tomatoes and peppers.

Preparation of beds and containers

Whether you are planning an extensive garden built into the ground, some raised beds or pots and growing bags, it is important to prepare the soil to accommodate seeds and seedlings. It’s all about encouraging easy-to-cultivate soil – or tilt. Basically, plants love the soil through which their roots pass easily and which is rich in nutrients that maintain them during their growth and harvest.

Nowadays, horticultural trends favor the lazy garden. Gone are the days when they dug 24 inches and turned the ground. Filming sounds like a great idea in theory, but in reality it ruins the ban. In our clay soils, rot tends to polish the bottom layer, making it difficult for plant roots and water to penetrate. And the microbes that live in the soil, which support the plants, don’t like to be disturbed.

Instead, it is advisable to add fertilizer and compost to the top layer of soil and apply lightly. And Miller says you need to grow something in the beds all year long, even if you only plant a cover plant. – plants that help protect the soil from erosion and return nutrients to the soil. Their roots also help the ban.

(Does that mean you just wasted money on a rotating machine? Yes, yes.)

Fertilizer – garden need

Testing the soil once a year or every few years will help determine what nutrients may be missing from the soil and help you choose a fertilizer.

Stein, horse or chicken manure – which is best? All fertilizers have their benefits. Chicken manure contains a higher nitrogen component, so it is especially good to add it to beds and pots.

Take care of any manure that has not been aged. Fresh chicken manure contains enough nitrogen to burn plants. And know the source. If you get free horse manure from your neighbor, make sure the horses have not been treated for a disease or condition that could get into the manure. The same is true of rudder. Make sure it comes from cows that are not pumped with hormones.

Compost, compost, compost

The mantra of gardeners everywhere: Compost your beds and pots.

You can make yourself using a composter or by handling compost piles. Non-diseased cuttings from plants and vegetables, kitchen debris, dried leaves and even shredded newspapers can get into the compost pile. It’s a slow process, but the end product is worth it. The nutrients from these cuttings and debris are concentrated in the compost, so it feeds the plants.

The alternative is to buy compost from nurseries, home improvement stores and hygiene districts. When buying compost, read the packaging. You are looking for a wide variety of ingredients, but no more than 20 percent fertilizer.

Mulch, mulch, mulch

This is the second mantra of gardeners everywhere. Adding a layer of mulch to beds and pots can protect the soil from harder elements, retain moisture, and nourish plants when the mulch breaks down.

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