Tips For Starting A New Vegetable Bed

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It's time to start planning your spring gardens! Are you starting a fresh garden, moving to a new area, or looking to expand to a new area?  We have some tips to help you plan your garden and get the most out of your space. 

This year we are plotting out three new fruit and veggie garden areas and taking into consideration the irrigation, deer, and sunlight into where we will be putting our new beds.

How To Start A Garden

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When Is The Best Time To Prepare A New Garden Bed?

The best time to prepare your new bed is in the fall when you can remove the existing grass, lay down sheet mulching to kill off any weeds that are hiding in the soil, start to amend the soil. 

However, if you are like me, fall is my busiest time and I don't usually have enough time to turn over a new garden.  And I usually wait until early spring. 

Choose a sunny well-drained spot for your new bed.

When you are planning where to place your new vegetable garden, you want a spot that will get at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.  You want to make sure this area also isn't mushy and drains well, unless you plan on building a raised bed. But you don't want standing water, which leads to mosquitos, mold, and other garden issues. 

You don't need a large area,  a bed that's 2ft by 4ft is a decent size for a beginner garden.  If you start off small, you will have room to grow as your gardening knowledge and excitement grows. 

You also must consider the distance to your water source.  Where is the closest water faucet?  Trust me, you don't want to be dragging long heavy hoses across your property.  It's NOT FUN! ( Yes, I've had to move beds because I didn't consider how heavy those hoses would be in the humid Maryland summers. )

Amending the soil in your new garden area.

Once you've located the best spot, it's time to remove all of the grass and weeds.  This is one of the times when I actually hire this service done from our local landscaping company. 

They come out, til the area and remove the grass, rocks, and weeds from the area and leave me with nice soft earth to begin my new beds with. 

If you are going to do this yourself, you will need to dig down 12-18 inches and remove the debris.  You don't want to leave anything living, so you don't encourage weeds to grow there. 

Cover your new plot of ground with a heavy tarp, weighted down.  Leave the tarp over the ground for 2-3 weeks to make sure you have killed off any invading weeds.

Once you are ready to start amending the soil, you will want to rake in a thick layer of compost and mix it well with your existing soil.  We recommend a minimum of 5 inches of compost.  This is one of those steps that's hard work, but worth the effort.  I love hand mixing in the soil and compost to get it mixed together beautifully. 

I also recommend purchasing an organic aged compost, as manure might burn up your new plants.

It isn't a rule, but we recommend bordering your beds with stone or wood to create your beds, not only is it visually inviting. But it helps you know where to keep the weeds from getting into your garden, where to step, and it's easier to keep the mulch in your beds with a barrier.

Get to know your plant zones

There are 11 planting zones on the USDA Plant Hardiness Map in the United States.  These zones are there to help you understand what plants grow best in what areas.  When you go to buy your seeds or pick out your plants, you will want to make sure their tags say they are appropriate for your zone. 

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Pick the right plants for your beds

In the excitement of starting a new bed, it's hard to remember to keep spacing rules and not to go crazy in purchasing your plants.

Read the spacing directions on your plants carefully.  Trust me, overcrowded plants do not grow well.  

If you are starting from seeds, make sure you are reading the suggestions about when to sow outside and when to start indoors. 

You'll need time to harden off your plant babies before they go in the ground, so don't rush things along.  Hardening off your plants takes 10-14 days, taking them outside for a few hours at a time and adding more time each day. 

While not everything gets started indoors, it's a good rule to give yourself plenty of time to start your seeds or new plants and prepare your beds.

Never plant before Mother's Day!

No matter how many times I've sworn that the weather is fine, it's been warm and sunny, or I'm too excited to wait.  I've regretting putting anything in the ground before Mother's Day.  Surprise snow, freezes, and crazy downpours have always ruined my early beds.  So do yourself a favor and wait until after Mother's Day to put your plant babies in the ground.

 

Must-Have Garden Tools:

Your tools make your life easier and help you to be more successful in your gardening. Here are a few of our favorite tools. 

Felco 5-1/4 in. Bypass Pruners are ergonomically designed for comfort and efficiency. Its handles are shaped to act as an extension of your forearm and its blade can be replaced.

  • Bypass blade design
  • Ergonomically designed handle
  • Resistant to corrosion
  • Adjustable blades are easy to replace

5 gal. bucket – You'll never run out of reasons for needing a good bucket.  From weeds to water, I'm always reaching for my buckets when I'm in the garden.

Stay organized and prepared when gardening with the Garden Tool and Tote Set by Pure Garden.

It comes with 8 crucial gardening tools and this tote bag.  It's everything you need to get started gardening or to maintain the one you already have. Perfect for gardening newcomers, this storage tote comes with a branch and twig pruner, snip, rake, trowel, shovel, water spray bottle, and soft wire tie. Not only that, but the tote is designed to be able to carry all these tools and more securely and simply, making moving around the garden a breeze.

Unlike your old garden hose, Pocket Hose Silver Bullet can store easily on your shelf or in a drawer. Its super lightweight so you can move it around your garden easily. Toss your old hoses away and get a Silver Bullet today.

  • Aluminum connectors fit easily with standard outdoor faucets
  • Lightweight accordion design expands when water is turned on shrinks when water is off
  • Shrinks itself dry when water is turned off
  • Never kinks like traditional hoses, making it easy to use and store

Botanical Interests Recycled Paper Pots are an eco-friendly way to grow your seedlings.

  • Made from 100% recycled, food-grade paperboard.
  • Sustainably manufactured using low-water and low-energy use methods.
  • Biodegrades in the garden or compost bin.
  • Green alternative to plastic or peat pots.
  • Ideal for varieties sensitive to root disturbance.
  • When wet, perforated bottom allows for easy tear away and transplant.
  • Made in the USA.

Simply “pop” open the paper pot, fill with soil, and sow your favorite Botanical Interests seed! Note the variety and date sown in the label section right on the pot! They also provide a convenient way to share your seedlings with friends and other gardeners.

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