Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
When growing a garden, it’s often hard to know when the best times of year to do certain tasks are; ultimately, this decision will depend on the weather of your particular region or climate in terms of specific months to start.
It’s best to dig your new garden in the fall for a spring garden because weeds will die off in the colder weather. After the initial digging, tilling should be done before you are ready to plant in the spring.
Upon initial digging of the garden, it’s important to remember soil maintenance. Rather than just digging and forgetting about it, the soil also should be tilled, and what about turning the soil? If you are also composting, you might wonder, when is the best time to add that soil to the mix?
Digging a Spring Garden
When digging a spot for a new garden, the best time of year to dig is in the fall, right before the winter frost. This can ensure that pesky weeds don’t make their way into your garden, let alone survive the winter.
Depending on what you are growing is going to factor in where it may be best to start your garden. A vegetable garden, for instance, will do good in full sun, while something with leaves and flowers will be fine with a little shade. Also, make sure to remember that some spots in the sun may become shady as the day progresses.
Make sure when digging your garden that you avoid low spots. Low spots tend to collect water and therefore create something known as “wet feet” This happens with the soil becomes saturated with water and displaces the available oxygen. Since the roots of plants need oxygen to function, without oxygen, the roots suffocate. Many plant species are intolerant of wet conditions like this, so it is best to avoid them.
Instead of digging straight into the earth if you have poor soil conditions or issues leaning down, another great option is to create a raised garden instead of digging straight into the earth. To create a raised garden, the two main components are soil and an exterior barrier.
To start a raised garden, it’s best to keep it simple using a 1:1 ratio of topsoil and compost. You can either mix topsoil and compost or place the compost as a top layer on top of the topsoil.
Putting soil in a raised garden is similar to how you may pot potted plants; you can even do it in a wheelbarrow or other exterior flower bed. These raised beds also tend to warm up quicker in the spring.
Digging Spots That Contain Grass
For spots that contain grass, kill off the grass before you start your garden. You can kill off the grass by digging, tilling, smothering, or using herbicides. Warning! Herbicides are only recommended as a last-ditch effort. You run the risk of killing nearby plants and harming the ecology of the given area. Make sure to get products directly for the plants you want to kill.
Digging produces speedy, clean outcomes and permits you to plant right away. If the sod is in acceptable condition, it may be utilized elsewhere in your yard. It likewise makes great compost. Disadvantages include critical loss of natural material, and it is very labor-intensive.
Tilling also creates fast, clean outcomes and allows you to plant immediately. It holds the natural matter in the dirt and is speedier and simpler than digging since a machine does much of the work for you. It tends to be troublesome in rough destinations or wet and mud solids.
Try not to crush soil down to a fine powder by halting once you have clusters of soil the size of tennis balls.
Smothering or covering is the easiest method to kill grass; however, delivering results can take a long time. Essentially the easiest way is to cover the area with plastic.
The plastic will cause a rise in temperature under it, therefore killing the grass. Once the grass is dead, removing the plastic before adding the soil is important.
Lastly, another option is an herbicide. It is not recommended, but the idea is fairly basic. It’s important to consider the damage it can have to the rest of your yard and the local ecology. But if you must use it, find the correct product for the plant, you are trying to kill and follow the instructions thoroughly.
When Do I Need to Till My Soil After Digging?
Tilling your soil should happen right before you get ready to plant your garden. As the weather starts to heat up in the spring, it’s time to start tilling! Tilling is a type of cultivation that is essentially done while setting up another nursery bed or adding a lot of organic material.
Tilling will develop the dirt 8-10 inches down, maybe significantly more if you make another nursery bed in a space where the dirt is exceptionally poor. You can likewise work at a more shallow degree of 4-8 inches when blending soil revisions into your bed(s). This is undeniably done towards the finish of the developing season.
Maintaining soil aWe are maintaining.
On a larger scale, farmers everywhere use crop rotation to maintain quality in the soil and have richer soil for years. Different plants require and produce different levels of nutrients. You can naturally build the soil by learning what plants do and using a crop rotation method.
An important soil nutrient to keep in mind is nitrogen. Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients to have in your soil. This is essential for a garden. Not only does nitrogen feed your plants, but it also feeds the organisms in the soil.
Natural fertilizers such as manure, green grass clippings, blood, seeds, or organic fertilizers can all be good sources of concentrated nitrogen. Although compost is great for overall soil health, compost isn’t a good nitrogen source.
Other methods of soil maintenance include pulling and smothering weeds, letting the soil dry out, and recycling perennial flowers.
Weeds take up valuable nutrients from the plants, and by pulling weeds, you eliminate the competition for nutrients in the soil. It is best to pull weeds early and quickly in the spring because they become more difficult to manage as they grow.
If not caught fast, they spread quickly via the root stem and become more difficult to remove. Some sources say it is safe to use the weeds as mulch, but for beginners, it would be best to put weeds in your compost bin or dispose of them some other way to prevent them from regrowing in your garden.
If you have a yard with a vast array of leafy plants and perennials, you can add them all to your flower bed during spring pruning. These clippings are a good nitrogen source and can be used to create a mulch layer.
When planting a spring garden, it’s important to ensure the soil is dry. If your soil is too wet, some ways to help your plants during the growing season include gently lifting them and placing mulch underneath them. Adding mulch to your garden generally helps with drying out a wet garden.
Another tip is to make sure you don’t damage the soil. Digging and walking on damages soils, especially soils with clay. Compacting soil damages the soil structure by squeezing the air out, leaving little space for the organism to breathe.
How often should I turn the soil once it’s been dug?
This will depend on what it is that you are growing. Older advice suggests that you should turn your soil once a year to airdate the soil. But this is more of an older, outdated practice. Instead, the soil’s physical condition should be paid attention to.
This matched up with testing the soil, will help you keep up with soil maintenance and garden the best possible results.
What is the best time to add compost after digging the soil?
So separately, you have been creating your compost. Perhaps you have a hole in the ground, a bucket, or some other sort of compost bin that you have been using. Your worms are alive and active, and now you are wondering when a good time to use this compost that you put all this hard work into can be added to your beautiful garden.
Compost has a curing time of 21 days; that’s the amount of time it needs to be worked with and eaten by worms and bugs before being it to your garden. After 21 days, adding the compost to your soil in the fall is best.
Compost series principle as a dirt conditioner regardless of whether it is placed on the dirt surface or delved in. A nursery soil routinely revised with compost is better ready to hold air and water, depletes it all the more productively, and contains a supplement that plants can draw on.
The changed soil likewise will generally deliver plants with fewer pest and sickness issues; the compost empowers a bigger populace of advantageous soil microorganisms, which control unsafe insects. It again encourages sound plant development and reduces garden weeds.
You are growing a garden for the first time, whether vegetables or flowers, can be difficult but rewarding. It will be a lot of trial and error, and the longer you have your garden and grow plants, the better you will get at the task.
Remembering soil maintenance is as important if not more important than watering your plants correctly, so paying attention to both watering and soil maintenance is important to ensure good garden health.
It’s important when you start not to overwhelm yourself, remind yourself that this is a growing experience, and be ready to learn a lot.
If you found value in this post, consider subscribing for future updates. You can do that below!