Preparing the garden for planting is easily one of my least favorite garden tasks. Seriously, it’s a toss up with weeding. Right now, there’s no word that I can use to describe my yard other than a “mess”. Seriously, just look at this picture. The hoop house looks as if it’s totally falling apart. On the left, you can see my small weedy patch of lettuces and carrots – which are actually growing really well, I might add. I always want to be honest with you guys, too. There’s a 99% chance that I’ll be taping the hoop house together with some really strong duct tape in hopes of getting another season’s use from it. In an ideal world, I’d have a REAL one, but I don’t live in fantasy land. For now, we’re making use of what we’ve got.
This is how the soil looks after I’ve just pulled up the black landscape fabric. You’ll notice that the soil looks rock hard. That’s because it is. We haven’t had any rain in well over a month. Since my soil is very heavy clay, it has compacted down quite a lot. The first step was for me to go through and dip up any large mounds of green growth. In the front of the picture, you can see some green verbascum plants from this season. I transplanted those elsewhere.
I would love if I could maintain my garden without the use of a tiller or cultivator, but I just can’t in this yard. I simply don’t have enough access right now to compost and other good stuff required to begin the process of building no till beds. I’m determined to make that happen in the future, but for now, I use this little cultivator that I bought at Walmart. It’s not very strong, but it is able to work the soil just deep enough so that it is soft and powdery. It also does a good job of pulling out any landscape fabric staples that got stuck in the hard ground. Always wear thick shoes in the garden, those staples are terrible if you step on one – be careful!
After tilling the garden beds, I then add in some compost from my finished pile. I’ll wait to apply any fertilizer until the weather warms up in the spring. I do this mainly because I want the plants to be settling down for the winter – not actively trying to promote new growth. If I were planting during the spring, the process would be a little different.
I think one of the main reasons that I don’t enjoy preparing seed beds is because it’s so labor intensive. Even though my yard is fairly small, the process of getting all of the seed beds ready can feel overwhelming for one person. Here’s hoping that our flowers will be absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for reading. I hope you’re having a wonderful day!