General Guide for new growers
A little background information for the introduction, I am from Des Moines Iowa. This is my first garden, you can call me Jay. I will continue to keep log of this garden and add pictures every week.
I am still learning so feel free to correct me if needed.
My garden fence is in a square of 50 feet. The length and the width are roughly 12.5 feet long.
The location I picked receives around 13 hours of sunlight a day.
First I tilled the ground. I made sure it was well after any rain because you do know want to till with soggy ground. After this I put down some garden lime. I applied two different sizes of pellets of lime. One was powder for fast acting lime. The other is pelletized and will take longer to break down this will help neutral the soil and raise the peat moss's low P h.
You never want to apply fertilizer and lime at the same time. So after a few days (and a good rain to help settle that lime in) I applied organic fertilizer all purpose 10-10-10 on the top of my freshly tilled clay/soil. These numbers stand for nitrogen phosphorus, and potassium the three basic nutrients for plants.
The soil contain here is very heavy. It is mostly clay. So What i had to do was prep my soil with what i think it needs.
Most plants like a medium where it drains well, receives air, and retains moisture. The medium I picked does all three. The items in my medium include:
Two 3.8 foot cubed compressed peat moss. Peat moss will make the soil less heavy and help with air and water retention.
Ten bags of top soil with peat added to enrich the soil with a nice dark color. This will also help hold nutrients in the soil.
I used a 5 gallon buck of vermiculite. I like vermiculite better than perlite because it holds more water. It also provides air for the roots and makes soils less heavy.
Next after this is all spread out fairly evenly I till the garden again. Now all that heavy clay is transformed into a light, fluffy root heaven. Its almost like a raised bed with 6-8 inches of rich loam soil. After this I rake the new soil and throw out any large clumps. My plants are going to like their new home. :)
So now with the six soil additives in my new soil ( peat moss, top soil, vermiculite, all purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer and two types of lime) I can start building my gate.
For fencing I used old gates that I recycled, it was nice saving money too. The fence is about 5 feet high. I need this fence because the deer population here is very high around 20 deer per square mile or more. These deer will eat just about anything.
The second fence is chicken wire. It is at the bottom two feet of my fence. I'm not a huge fan of chicken wire because of the environmental factors. I use it as a last resort due to the rabbit population. I bent the chicken wire so that two feet of chicken wire are vertical and one foot is horizontal to the ground. This is what it looks like
Here is a visual lets say 1 is equal to the five foot fence, L is equal to the chicken wire so the two fences look like this together: 1L
The L or chicken wire creates a corner so rabbits cant dig under the fence and if they do all they get is chicken wire. The rabbit would have to start digging at least a foot away to dig under the fence. Cover this horizontal part of the chicken wire with dirt to keep the lip of the fence flush with the ground.
Next I visited my locally nursery with a list of things I wanted to grow. When picking plants to grow I kept in mind how much space they would be take up and also the height they will grow. This makes it easier to plan where you want to grow your fruit. Take into account the angle of the sun. Have the smaller plants in front of the taller plants so the shorter ones don't get shaded. They need all the sunlight they can get to be strong and robust. You can start from seeds or seedlings/cuttings. This season I started with cuttings to get the extra size. Generally the bigger the plant the more it will produce.
Now I arrive home and its time to transplant. With a shovel I rake away the new light top soil till I come to the clay. When I reach the clay I dig it out about 4 inches wider than the size of the pot that the plant is currently in. I put about 4 inches of my homemade soil in the bottom so the roots can penetrate deeper. Then I back fill with the top soil.
Next I press down on the soil with my hands (you can use your feet too) about a foot and a half circle radius around the stem with the plant in the middle. What this does is naturally trap rain water and makes it flow to the plant. This will help keep the watering frequency lower.
After compacting the dirt around the plant in a bowl shape I water the plants as you should with all transplanting. Trick the plant into thinking it was in a bad storm. They may droopy for a few days, this is common after transplanting soon they will bounce back with vengeance.