Once I have chosen what I want to plant for my spring and summer crop, the next step is to think about what you are going to plant where. Most experts and books will talk about ridged adherence to crop rotation in the annual vegetable garden, and whilst I understand and believe it is a good system, I am not good at keeping records and I find crop rotation a little complicated to follow. I prefer to just get out and plant. The more you plant the more you produce. However I do follow a few golden rules- make sure you maintain a healthy living soil and do not plant the same plant in the same spot – the easiest way to do this, is when you pull something out, replant the area with something different or tag it to let you know what was planted there.
So now you just have to get the garden ready for planting.
Although I like to have as much production as possible happening all year, towards the end of winter I have a fair bit of space available, just because I have harvested most of my autumn plantings and during winter in the garden, germination and growth is limited because the ground is too cold. I do quite a bit of productive pot culture during the winter in a nice sunny paved area, which keeps everything growing even in the coldest of weather.
Hence I have the luxury of being able to prepare a lot of space ready for the spring/summer season.
Whether you’re doing a top up of a no-dig system, or an improvement of a soil based system, then you need to work out what soil additives you need to improve your beds, what to purchase and how much of each additive. Even though I personally have a soil based system, I treat it like a no-dig garden, in that I often just do a layered top up, rather than incorporate ingredients into the soil.
You can work out your soil additives by calculating the area and volume and converting this to litre or kgs as more bagged products come in either litre or Kgs.
However, this can be rather tedious. Over the years I have worked out that generally I need:
And enough sugar cane mulch (three bales for my 4×5 meter gardens) to cover the garden with 50mm of mulch
I mix the dynamic lifter and blood and bone together spread evenly over the area.
Where I plan to grow carrots I incorporate the fertilisers by turning the soil over with a fork to a depth of 20cm.
This breaks the soil up and prevents forking of carrot roots.
For most other crops, I don’t both digging and just leave it in a layer on top and allow the worms to incorporate it over the next few months.
I then water the area well and then spread the sugar cane mulch over the area and water again.
This then means the beds are prepared and ready for planting when you have plants available.
The mulching prevents the ground drying out and stops weed germination. Weed control is often the most time consuming activity in a productive garden, and soul destroying, so anything that prevents weeds infesting your beds is worth taking the time to do.
However the mulch will often stop the soil warming up in early spring, to get around this when I am ready to plant up my next lots of plants I will rake back the mulch, in a small area, a week before planting, let in warm up, rake it back into place and then plant.
Have you started thinking about what you’re planting this spring and summer? Let me know over on the Facebook page
Do you have any pictures of your garden beds from last year? I would love to see it! You can see my garden beds over on my Pinterest Page