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  1. #1

    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.


















  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    SW of Chicago
    Posts
    34
    Blog Entries
    3

    nice!

    I am almost done with my slightly raised beds. Mine are 18x22 with a walkway in the middle so I do not compact the dirt while I am working in the beds. Yours is very nice. I will be back in to read how yours is doing...

  3. #3
    The only thing I would suggest is to have your soil tested.
    Just contact your county extention service. Since you already added soil amenitys I would wait untill fall though.
    Sounds like you'll have a great garden.
    Best of luck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Maryland zone 7
    Posts
    3,042
    Hi Jay,

    That is quite impressive for a first time garden! It looks like you have a great start on the season and you are very fortunate to have so much room.

    Since you said that you are open to suggestions, I would like to address a few things you've mentioned. Justwannaow's suggestion of a soil test at your local extension service is a great idea. That way you'll know what the pH of your soil is and what nutrients might be missing or unbalanced. You can do that next year if you like.

    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.
    If you eliminate the peat moss you probably won't need the lime.


    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.
    Again, a soil test will tell you what is needed, BUT the best way to change the tilth (texture) of your soil is to add organic material. One of the best ways to do that is by adding compost. The pH of compost is neutral and it's full of good microbes, helps soil to not only retain moisture, but aids in drainage. I usually suggest a 4" layer mixed into the soil to begin a new garden. If your soil is very heavy clay, you can also add 1" of sharp sand to the mix.


    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.
    Peat moss is low in nutrients, high in pH and once dry is difficult to rewet. Ever water a houseplant that has dried out and notice how the water just sits on the surface for a long time? In addition to that there is concern for the loss of the peat bogs.
    http://www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/facts/peat.htm
    http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/fac...rgmatter/#peat
    http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/peat.html#help

    Unless you are making raised beds, you don't need more topsoil. You already have soil, so the best way to go is to add organics such as compost to improve it. Bringing in topsoil adds the risk of bringing in weed seeds. Compost heats up as it degrades and kills most, if not all, weed seeds. Here's a handy compost calculator you might want to keep so you can figure out how much you might need.
    http://www.cedar-grove.com/compost_calculator.asp

    Vermiculite can get expensive so I reserve it for my potting mix. Just using compost, and maybe some sharp sand, would eliminate the need for vermiculite in your garden.

    This site has all kinds of wonderful info about soil and I think you'll enjoy reading it.
    http://www.soils.usda.gov/sqi/concep..._food_web.html

    Here's some great info about soil, nutrients and compost you should also find helpful.
    http://www.greenhands.com/soil/index.html
    http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/fac...ter/index.html

    You might want to consider starting your own compost pile so you'll have some for next year.
    http://vegweb.com/composting/what.shtml
    http://www.howtocompost.org/cat_generalinfo.asp

    I think you've done an amazing job and I love how resourceful you were in obtaining what you need. I can't wait to see how your garden grows.

    Newt

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