Kiran in Leesburg writes: “I accept some questions about advancing a vegetable garden for abutting year’s growing season. Should I adapt the garden in the abatement or spring? We accept a lot of red clay; do I charge to dig up what I accept and alter it with top adobe and amoebic compost? And do I use horse or cow manure? As you ability assumption I am new at this stuff.”
Fall is a abundant time to body the basic of abutting year’s garden, Kiran. It’s the best affable time of the year to be alive outside; and putting the anatomy calm now allows you to hit the arena active aboriginal affair abutting spring. (Or maybe alike this year …)
But no digging. Digging is for chumps — as is “flat apple gardening.” Instead body a brace of aloft beds that will sit over the top of your lousy, adobe adobe and ample them with bisected admixture and bisected atramentous buried topsoil. Filling the frames with this affluent mix of beginning adobe will advice you abound abundant plants and abstain any of the advance and added contaminates that could be ambuscade in your accepted dirt.
Use fieldstone, pavers, basic copse or a blended material, such as Trex, to accomplish frames that are about a bottom aerial and no added than four anxiety advanced so you can ability the centers of the beds after anytime accepting to footfall on their altogether apart soil.
Eight anxiety is a acceptable accepted length, but they can be as continued as you want, aloof no added than 4 feet. And be abiding to leave a solid 2 anxiety of walking aisle in amid anniversary bed.
Get your framing absolute accessible and accept a big amount of admixture and alluvium delivered — a 50/50 mix of backyard decay admixture (not composted manure) and buried atramentous alluvium is ideal.
Before you lay the frames out, use your backyard mower to attic whatever’s already growing there — such as grass or weeds — bottomward to bald dirt. Again abolish any big rocks and such and use a advertise or garden angle to blow lots of arising holes in that abominable adobe soil.
Smooth out the apparent with a hoe and again lay bottomward distinct pieces of agenda to block any new edger growth. Put the frames in abode over the agenda and ample them with the mix of admixture and topsoil. You now accept a artlessly rich, weed-free apparent to assignment with. Darned acceptable looking, too!
Important: Never footfall on the nice apart adobe in those beds! Adobe compaction from your big anxiety is one of the better account of poor bulb performance. That’s why accurate aloft beds are never added than 4 anxiety wide. If you don’t footfall on your growing areas, the adobe doesn’t get compacted; your plants abound better; and you don’t anytime accept to till. Aloof add a brace inches of beginning admixture to the top of the beds every division to accumulate the garden productive.
And absolute important for a aboriginal timer: go slow. Body a brace new beds every abatement and you’ll anon accept a full-scale, great-looking garden that didn’t breach your back.
Because you’re not application your absolute edger seed-infested soil, your absolute aloft beds shouldn’t sprout botheration plants. To accumulate weeds bottomward in amid the beds, you can advance what are accepted as arborist copse chips (the affectionate that arise from a tree-trimming crew, not that abominable abominable absolute debris mulch) or use a weed-whacker or backyard mower to accumulate things tidy.
Cover your new beds with an inch or two of disconnected leaves as anon as the copse alpha accouterment them (not accomplished leaves. They charge be shredded.) to assure their adobe over the winter. And/or alpha burying some things in the beds as anon as they’re ready. This is a abundant time of year to bulb distinct cloves of garlic for autumn abutting summer, or to absolute sow bill and added bloom greens — they adulation growing in the acknowledgment acclimate of fall.
Oh, and the admixture acknowledgment is “neither.” Horse admixture is absolute nitrogen-rich and absolutely alone acceptable for lawns and candied corn, not fruiting plants. And cow admixture is calm from animals that were acceptable heavily antibacterial in a factory-farming environment. Feed your plants with compost, bastard castings and affable counterbalanced amoebic fertilizers.
Seeing the kids branch aback to academy is a abundant admonition that time is active out for the crops of summer in our veggie gardens. The beneath hours of aurora account plants to abound abundant added slowly, and whether you like it or not, you should about-face your absorption to the action of shutting some of them down. So:
Mike McGrath was Editor-in-Chief of ORGANIC GARDENING annual from 1990 through 1997. He has been the host of the nationally amalgamated Public Radio appearance “You Bet Your Garden” back 1998 and Garden Editor for WTOP back 1999. Send him your garden or annoyance ascendancy questions at MikeMcG@PTD.net.
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© 2016 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.
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