Just because it’s getting cold out does not mean you have to stop preparing for the upcoming spring. In fact, this is a great time to start prepping your beds or areas you plan to grow in.
At Harp & Shamrock Croft, LLC, the work just keeps on going. Last weekend, we already started dropping straw, leaves, and whatever else into certain beds that we want to amend for better growing results next spring. We will leave these untouched until March. See picture (there is actually garlic in the ground here, but this look will be similar to many areas).
We have also decided to expand once again. I call it progress. My wife calls it an addiction. At any rate, we have two new areas we are prepping for the spring growing season. Honestly, this is my favorite method as we lay tarps (old banners) down face up and will let sit until early March for the bigger areas. I use cardboard for smaller areas, but the process will be the same. Then, around the first week of March, we will till heavily. After said tilling, a nice bed of straw and crushed leaves will go over top. The straw and leaves keep the grass at bay. When we plant in these areas, we will add some heavy paper between the rows and drop more straw. It’s a great way to keep your garden areas grass and weed-free. Be prepared to do some weed and grass pulling between the plants though. Another idea is to use weed fabric and cut holes in the middle to plant in. This does the job great as well.
Another great task to take on is deciding what you want to grow. If you are like us, the ordering of seeds is like Christmastime. We have already drawn a diagram of our growing areas to plant in and assigned these areas with our spring/summer/fall crops. The goal is to rotate. We hold firmly to the idea that heavy feeders, like tomatoes, will not go in the same spot for two years. In that time, we amend, and amend again, these areas so after that timeframe we can return to these areas and see great success. Here is a great article that Clemson Extension has on small scale garden prep. The article is a great resource as it will help you work out your crop plan.
We can attest to the fact that the more detailed we go with our yearly crop plan the better our gardens do. We have started to treat our soil with the same respect we treat the vegetables that grow in these areas. We have said it time and time again, soil is the starting point, so more of your effort in gardening should be focused on the land. If done properly, your yields should be abundant, and your soil should become healthier with every season. Much of this conditioning can be done during the off time in anticipation of the spring.
We are still producing heavily our fall crops of kale, arugula, salad greens, radishes, peas, and carrots, but our summer crops of tomatoes, peppers, and okra have just about come to a close. We’ve got garlic in the ground and lots of seed down in the hoop house, hoping for a nice winter crop there to tide us over until spring. We are planning on adding a few crops next year and we are also making some big plans for plant sales. Stay tuned for more info!
As always, thanks for following our adventures, and happy gardening!