Our First Edible Garden: Prepping the Ground & Garden Space

As you guys know, one of our first big projects at the farm is our vegetable and fruit garden. I shared with you guys last week how we planned our first edible garden. This week, I want to share what we did to prep our space- basically how we took an empty pasture space and turned it into a garden area! Apologies in advance for the crappy iPhone photos... it's hard to snap beauty shots with a DSLR when you're covered in dirt!

To start, we measured and then staked off the space where we wanted the garden to go. We included the beds as sketched out in our plan and put a foot wide border between the beds and around the entire garden space. Truth be told, we're learning quickly that's not enough border space, especially around the perimeter of the garden- go at least two feet or wider.

Next, we dug a trench around the entire perimeter of the garden. The main purpose of this is for animal-proof fencing (more on that next week!) but it also helped anchor the space. We did some heavy weeding within the garden space, pulling out (with roots!) any major weeds, discarding rocks or any other debris. Then it came time to till. David picked up this tiller, which is actually just an attachment to his weed eater. We had planned to rent a tiller but for the same price, we got to keep this one! He really liked this piece but I will say that after many hours of hard use, it broke the handle of his weed eater about 2/3 of the way through. Not sure if that was user error or machine error. But it did a really good job of roughing up the grass and dirt underneath.

Basically, David went around and tilled up about six inches of dirt with the machine. Then he went back and dumped a bit of organic garden soil (potting soil with organic matter in it- manure) on top of the dirt and roughly tilled it all together. Then we went around with a shovel and manually turned the dirt over another few inches (and again added more organic garden soil) and along the way, pulled out grass, weeds and seeds.

After we generally tilled the ground, we went back and staked off each garden bed. I poured some mulch along the areas we wanted to use as walking paths between the beds. We then used a trowel and garden rake to dig in and till another few inches down into the soil in each bed. I found it pretty helpful to do a "rough" till of the big garden space and then focus specifically on each bed. Since we had our planting plan, we knew which beds would have vegetables with deep roots, so we tilled those in a little deeper but dug the beds with shorter root systems more shallow. Make sense?

At this point in the game, it was time to plant! Since the danger of frost is officially over here in Georgia, we went ahead and put most of our vegetables and fruit plants in the ground last weekend- with a few exceptions, like tomatoes, herbs, eggplant and peppers. For each bed, we followed the instructions on the seed packets in terms of how far apart to plant each seed/how many seeds to plant but always dug each hole a little deeper, filled with more organic garden soil and then put the seeds and soil/dirt mixture back on top. Hopefully that gives each seed a really good, solid starting system!

I will say that after about two weeks, we do have some small amounts of grass coming up, particularly along the borders and in the areas outside of each bed that we did not "double dig." I'm not sure there's much more we could have done to prevent that- it may just take time and a season or two of gardening in this space to get rid of that grass forever. Until then, we'll just pull it up as it comes and hopefully it won't interrupt our edible plant growth!

So that sort of seems like a whole bunch of info, but hopefully that gives you some insight as to our system this year. And if you're looking to start a new garden, these steps will definitely start you in the right direction! So, those of you out there who are old pros at gardening- what did we miss? Did we do anything wrong?! Share your green thumb advice, please!

1 comment:

  1. We finally purchased a small tiller. So worth the money!! Especially with our clay soil here. If you are looking for tips and inspiration, check out Rhoda's blog as she has posted several times about her dad's amazing garden!!


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