Now is the perfect time to start a garden for next year. You had all season to evaluate your garden spaces. Do you know where you can expand a space or where a new garden can be added? Take this time to prepare next year’s spring garden.
- Look around your new garden space. Will a new garden interfere with an existing garden, such as by creating too much shade or making another garden or part of the yard inaccessible?
- Will the new garden disrupt the grade of the yard and proper water flow/drainage? A previous yard of mine had a swale to direct water away from the house during heavy rains; blocking that swale could have caused flooding in the yard and damage to the home.
- Is the new garden cohesive to your existing garden with design, flow and water needs?
- Do you plan on dividing plants from existing gardens to use in the new garden? Are the plants and new garden space well suited for each other?
- How much time do you have to give to a new garden? Are you overwhelmed now or itching for more soil to plant? Be honest with your answer. Adding too much garden space may turn a fun activity into a chore.
- Evaluate the soil. If you can, have your soil analyzed by the local extension office. You may be able to bring in the necessary amendments before the snow flies.
- Mark off the garden, edge the space and add soil. I like to cover the new garden space with newspaper before adding a foot or two of soil when starting a new garden. I remove a 12- to 24-inch border of sod, outlining the garden. The new soil comes half way out into the new border edge, leaving the other half as a clear line between raised bed and lawn.
- Till the soil. Break up tight, compacted soil to improve air and water circulation. Adding rich, loose soil over hard clay soil can cause separation of soil layers and your new garden can literally drift away in a heavy rain.
- I top dress with composted manure, compost or in a pinch, store bought compost to give the soil a nice head start.
- Concerned about weed germination? Cover the bed with black plastic to kill any unwanted weed seeds.
- If time/season permits, spread a thin layer of mulch to protect the new, loose soil from wind and rain erosion.