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Discussion in 'Gardening' started by TNBielefelder, Oct 6, 2015.
What do you do in the fall to prepare for your spring garden?
Are you starting new?
For my garden, as soon as I've had a couple of killing frosts, I take down the fence and let the chickens have at it. They will work it until the ground freezes. I'll let them back in in the early spring to work it some more. (at that time, I'll fence off one area for my early crops, and hope they respect my fencing efforts!) They'll get kicked out until the next fall when the cycle repeats. I like to keep a continuous mulch over my garden. Am going to work at converting the whole garden to Back to Eden concept over the next year or so. I leave garlic in the garden as a perennial crop. Also let parsley and other herbs over winter. If time and energy allow, I make a hay bale cold frame in the middle of the garden and plant it with greens. That'll provide me with greens until Thanksgiving, and then start up again in mid-March. My neighbors typically don't plant ANYTHING until Memorial Day.
I will be starting new. We have never had a garden. My backyard is where we want to start but its also where my septic tank field lines are. Any suggestions for starting fresh in the spring? Is there anything I can do before spring gets here to get off to a good start?
In theory those septic tank field lines should hold clean processed water. When it is working right the processing takes place in the tank itself with just clean water coming out. We had ours tested because they are in a low spot and they were OK. I’d still consider it bad form to put a garden over those lines. I would not want to interfere with how they work let alone the potential for a septic upset.
What kind of gardening are you going to do? What I call conventional where you plant it in rows directly in the soil, raised beds, square foot, back-to-Eden, or many other options? How big is your area? Are you going to fence it to keep chickens or deer out? How you plan to do it can certainly influence what you can do now. Setting fence posts can hit those field lines too.
On new ground one of your problems is that grass is probably firmly established. Grass is a pain. It makes millions of seeds so your soil is full of seeds. Plus it comes back from the roots. There are different ways to handle that, depending on what your garden will look like and how big it is. You can turn the soil with a tractor and turning plow and bury it. Or maybe dig through it now with a shovel and maybe a mattock and try to remove all grass roots. I would then cover it with either mulch or a green mulch. Another option would be to cover it with plastic, maybe 3 mil black plastic, to protect it and solarize it a bit. That will kill any weeds that sprout plus protect it from erosion over the winter. The ideal thing would have been to do this with plastic over the summer to kill out a lot of the stuff that is growing there but it is too late for a lot of that benefit. I only planned that far ahead once for a strawberry bed. It helped a lot but did not solve all my grass problems. Man, I hate grass in a garden.
Another problem you might have in Lynchburg is that your winters and spring can be fairly wet. You don’t want to work wet soil, it turns clay to brick. You may have a challenge getting a dry enough window to plant your garden if you plan on growing the early spring crops. My garden is established and I prepare the area I’ll put cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard, onions, peas, and such this time of year so it takes a minimum of work to get those crops in the ground. My “dry” time for that, late February to early March, is pretty limited. I have to be ready and move fast or I’ve missed a window.
I don’t know how often you clean out your coop. Depending on how you manage that it’s pretty traditional to clean out your coop in the fall and put that where your garden will be. By planting time it will have broken down enough that you can plant without the poop being too “hot” and burning your crops.
Unless you have a lot of experience, I’d not get too ambitious the first year. I’m a member of the sister gardening forum. We often see people join with really big plans that just get overwhelmed and give up. Move into it gradually and you are more likely to stick with it. It’s not a case of just prepping the garden and planting it, then enjoy the harvest. You’ll be weeding and probably watering, plus when the produce comes in you often get into freezing or canning the excess. Even a small garden can produce a lot.
What you can do now will depend on how your garden will look. I really enjoy it and hope you do too.
I recommend to get rid of existing grass and weeds in whatever manner you choose. Then put a thick layer of covering down (leaves work very well, chicken bedding also) and let it sit over winter. In the spring you can 'till and your garden will be ready.
Thanks for the information Ridgerunner! I have not fully settled on what type garden. Were I live most people do the row planting but I have considered the raised beds and doing something small scale.I will check out the forum as well.