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3 Simple Things to Guarantee a Successful Garden

Whether you have clay soil or sandy soil you can be successful in gardening.  All you have to do is three fundamental things:

1. Prepare your soil properly. (You only do it once.)

2. Continually improve your soil by adding organic matter.

3. Mulch your soil.

I’ve written a lot on all three subjects.  Whether you’re preparing for new beds or improving your old, […]

What To Do If You Can’t Dig

One of my readers, a fairly new gardener, told me she gets bogged down trying to do everything properly.  I think a lot of people — especially beginning gardeners—do that.

Take Soil Preparation for example.

The reason for soil preparation is to give your plants the best possible chance to do their best for you.  If involves loosening the soil, adding organic matter, and […]

Soil – Most Valuable Asset for Your Garden

Our first garden was at our previous residence 33 years ago.  A few years prior to our arrival there had been a garden on one side of the yard but  the other side of the yard remained untouched for at least 25 to 30 years.

The side that had been used as a garden had been plowed with heavy farm equipment and was visibly […]

Why Mulch Your Garden Paths?

This post was inspired by a reader of my site who has recently invested some time in preparing a new garden bed.  Her sister-in-law is doing the same and they had a question regarding a recommendation I made in the second part of the post Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement.

In preparing a new bed I advised adding about 3 feet to each side of the area designated for the bed and dig that at the same time you dig the bed.  The soil from the path area would be thrown up on the bed leaving the paths much lower than the bed.  I then recommended mulching the paths as well as the bed.

(Picture below shows my new roll of straw.  I try to keep one on hand all the time.)

My reader writes:
“My sister-in law was wondering —and I got stumped a bit— as to why it is important to mulch the paths.  ———I guessed that since you use the path dirt to raise the bed, old weed seeds get exposed.  Mulching the paths helps keep the weeds down and keeps them from seeding into your beds.—”

She’s correct of course.  When you dig up ground —– buried weed seeds are exposed and therefore can germinate. Mulching the paths keeps the weeds down and/or controllable.

The nearer weeds grow to your garden beds the greater the chance they’ll re-seed in your bed.  Even if you’re diligent in removing them ——life is life —–and in all probability sooner or later you are going to have some weeds grow and go to seed in your beds.  Much less chance of this happening with mulch on the paths.

There are other important reasons to mulch —–read more—-

Last Part - Adding Organic Matter - 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me I recommend you read the articles that preceded this article. Here are the links:

Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success;   Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement; Cont’d. Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement; first part of Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement; Cont’d Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

Compost

Many organic gardeners compost. In case you don’t know, ‘to compost’ is to pile up organic material and allow it to totally decay.  There’s more to it than that —-but you get the idea.  The finished product — called compost — can be added to the soil at any time for the purpose of improving the physical condition of the soil and feeding plants.

When I first started gardening I started composting.  I did so for 10 years or more.  I never had enough.  I stopped composting.

I changed to incorporating —–read more—-

Cont'd - Adding Organic Matter - 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me I recommend you read the articles that preceded this article. Here are the links:

Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success;   Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement; Cont’d. Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvementfirst part of Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

Repeated Tilling and Hoeing -Their Effect on Organic Matter

One of the things that I’ll bet will come as a shocker to many is the fact that repeated tilling and hoeing destroy organic matter in the soil.  Tilling and hoeing are so common and so much a part of human culture worldwide that it’s almost sad to have to think of them as being something that is not particularly good for our soil.  The good news is —-the key word here is ‘repeated‘.

Tilling and hoeing expose soil organic matter to more oxygen and thus oxidation. Oxidation “burns” away the organic matter.

Your plants need —–read more—-

Adding Organic Matter - 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me I recommend you read the articles that preceded this article. Here are the links:

Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success; Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement;   Cont’d. Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement

Part 3 –

Organic matter is anything in the soil that was living and has decayed.

This act of increasing organic matter in your soil by adding organic material will be of great significance and value to your garden.  It will have a profound effect on your garden’s success and the survival and well-being of your crops.

The study of soil has been extensive and the knowledge that organic matter is necessary to raise crops successfully is widely available. Yet, worldwide crop production has resulted in a decline in soil organic matter and thus, a decline in soil fertility.

The chemical companies great —–read more—-

Cont'd.- Soil Preparation - 1st Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me please read Soil Improvement – Your Foundation to Success and the first part of this post, Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement.

Best Time to Prepare Your Soil

The best time is either spring or fall.  The main thing you want to try to avoid is hot, dry-as-a-bone ground and extremely hot temperatures. Try to work in soil that is neither too wet nor too dry.  It’s best to work when temperatures are pleasant — best for your body, best for your mental outlook, and best for your soil.

Never till wet soil because it will cause heavy clodding and the layer beneath will become further compacted.

Before You Begin

If you’ve done any —–read more—-

Soil Preparation - 1st Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me, please read Part 1 – Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success.

Part 2

Fundamental Step

Preparing your soil is the first fundamental step when you start a garden. Without preparing your soil you are pretty much wasting a lot of time and energy. And you are making it harder, if not impossible, to be successful.

What Soil Preparation Does

Soil Preparation is your first step in creating the most productive garden possible. It helps improve —–read more—-

Mulching Your Fruits, Vegetables, and Perennials


April 10

Some folks have told me they don’t have an understanding of how to mulch certain vegetable beds.  They reason that the newly emerged vegetables will be mashed by the mulch.

Using crops that are currently planted in my garden (or will be soon) as examples below, I’ve been more specific about just —–read more—-