Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gardening: Planning the Spring Garden

Photo: Flickr/ Amber Strocel

Last week we talked about getting ready for the Spring garden by finding the last frost date for your area, and choosing which plants you want to grow. This week I am going to talk about the garden beds.


The easiest way to start a garden bed is to make a raised bed. They also offer lots of advantages, like getting warmer sooner in Spring, healthy soil without having to amend what you have in your yard, and good drainage. To make a raised bed garden, you:

- Choose where you want your garden to go. It needs to be a place that gets 8+ hours of sunlight each day, is fairly level, and has easy access to water (such as being near a spigot). My garden is in my backyard and my spigot is on the side of my house, but I am able to hook up and drag a long hose around to water the gardens.

- Choose your shape and size, then dig up the grass and loosen the dirt. You can mark your garden outline with spray paint, digging around it, or laying down boards or sticks. Then you know where to dig up the grass. 

- Cut to fit, and lay down a piece of landscaping fabric over the entire garden. This helps keep weeds from growing up into your garden. It also keeps soil moist and cooler in summer & warmer in winter. Landscaping fabric is sold by the roll at garden & home stores.

- Build a frame for your garden with untreated (you don't want chemicals leaching into your garden!) boards. Use at least 2x6 boards, because you want your garden to be at least 6 inches deep. You could also use bricks or stones but this will be more expensive. 

- Make sure your frame is level so that water won't pool in any one spot of the garden. If it isn't level, just dig up some dirt under the higher spots.

- Fill your garden with dirt. You want good, healthy garden soil. It should have compost or manure in it. The cheapest way to get good garden soil is to order a truckload from a local garden center. Buying it by the bag adds up very quickly. My local garden center offers a truckload of garden dirt with composted mushrooms in it for $20 per truckload, if you bring your own truck for them to fill. I borrow my neighbor's truck for this. 

Though my seed packetss all say they should take 7-10 days to sprout, I have two vigorous little guys up already! (See the first gardening post for more on starting seeds.) I've been keeping the kit next to my radiator heater to keep them warm. Luckily we have had sunshine the last couple of days, so I move them into the sun that's streaming in through the windows during the day.

Speaking of vigorous growers, the kittens are growing like crazy!

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