Organic in the Garden – Starting a New Vegetable Garden From Scratch
When I first buy or move into a new home, one of the first things I work out is planning the Vegetable garden will go. This may be one specific area set-aside for your vegetable garden or several spots scattered around the yard.
It’s a good idea to plan ahead by a few months before beginning to plant your new garden out. This allows time for ground preparation and eradication of any weeds, grass or other plant matter.
One of the best ways to eradicate weeds is by simply covering the area with black plastic or multiple layers of cardboard, newspaper or other material to block out the sun. All plants need both water and sunlight to grow so removing one of these elements will suppress weed growth. Cardboard and newspaper are my preferred choice because these will break down in the soil. The ink on newspaper is a concern to many using organic methods but compared to chemical herbicide alternatives it’s probably the best of the worst.
Once you have the area covered and assuming you are using newspaper or cardboard as weed suppressant, you can begin adding organic matter over the cardboard. Layers of fresh lawn clipping, dry leaves, old hay and compost can be added up to around 30cm over the entire area. This can be added over time or immediately if you have ample organic matter lying around.
You may choose to add edging around your vegetable bed before adding organic matter or simply build up a mound to plant directly into. I prefer to use and edging when using the method described in this article.
More newspaper and cardboard can be added on top of the bed once established to help suppress weeds while waiting to plant out. If planting seedlings could simply just make a hole in this paper, and plant directly into the rich organic matter you added to the bed.
Some of the best plants to grow as your first crop on a new garden bed include Legumes, such as peas and beans. Deep rooting vegetables such as Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and some varieties of radish are a good Choice if you expect the soil you are building up is excessively compact. These deep-rooting vegetables will help penetrate the soil beneath the organic matter, which will be moist from the regular watering of the garden bed.
After your first crop is harvested you will need to dig this bed over to a good spade depth. This will bring the soil up from under the bed mixing it with the organic matter. Your New Vegetable bed is now established and ready for future planting’s.
Digging in more compost or manure between crops will keep the soil well conditioned and fertile.