Veggie Garden - when to start

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by perennial, Nov 1, 2004.

  1. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

    Aug 23, 2004
    I have an existing garden which provided for us this year, but next year i want to triple it. Is it best to dig up the sod now in the fall or fresh after everything thaws in the spring.

    Thanks for any advice,

  2. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

    Dec 29, 2002
    I prefer to get new areas started in the fall. There's so much to do in the spring that one less big job is helpful. If you bring up the sod now you'll have an advantage over grubs that might be trying to over winter under it.

    Gardens shouldn't be left uncovered over the winter. If you can cover it with leaves or even tarps you'll preserve nutrients and avoid erosion.

  3. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    SE PA, zone 6b
    Can you get your hands on large amounts of organic material? If you would put down 6-8 layers of newspaper or one of cardboard, then 6-8" manure, then 12+" of leaf mulch now, you will avoid ever having to dig up the space. Mysterious things will happen over the winter. In the spring, just plant right down into the mulch without any turning, etc. Earthworms will come-even to the hardest clay- and will turn the soil much more efficiently than you. After spring heats up, begin putting on more mulch to hold the water in and keep the weeds under control.

    I use 4' beds with 2' paths in between. By scooping the path dirt into the planting beds, you make slightly raised beds. These will grow as you add much from year to year. You can play around with crop rotation to prevent disease and promote fertility. There is plently of info on that available. Drip hoses work well with this system, altho this year, we hardly need to water at all. If you get some #9 wire, and build hoops the width of your beds, you can puton clear plastic to warm up the soil, followed by agricultural cloth, you can not only push the season, but also protect against many irritating bugs (cabbage moths and flea beetles come to mind)

    Happy gardening. Looks like there will be plenty of food next year!

  4. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2004
    It depends a lot on your climate and soil.
    It is generally a good idea to clean off the remains of the crops/weeds/grass before winter sets in--you remove potential overwintering insects and disease and debris that may not decompose over a cold/wet winter and will remain to hamper seeding in the Spring.
    However--if it's too late to establish a cover crop leaving growing weeds/remains might be better than leaving the same ground bare.
    Tilling and planting a cover crop is probably the most soil enhancing. It will get rid of the residues and enrich the soil. The cover crop will protect from erosion during the winter and also enrich the soil. The main negative is how soon you will be able to get in the field in the Spring. You'll have to wait until its warm and dry enough to till under, wait 2-4 wks to decompose before you can plant.
    Where I live the soil is a heavy clay. Traditional farmers plow under the summer residues and either leave the soil plowed over Winter--the freeze/thaw cycles break up the heavy clay into smaller particles and the deep furrows collect the rain to charge the aquifer. They then till and plant in spring once it dries enough to enter. (The gardeners with smaller plots do this with a spade. They go over the whole garden with a spade and coarsely invert a shovels worth burying everything and leaving the ground lumpy and open.) Or they till and plant in the fall (winter wheat especially) which they don't harvest until the next June. I grow vegetables so I do a bit of both. I have planted cover crops in the early fall on ground that I know I won't be able to till under until April/May because of wet soils.
    Other soils I prepare in the fall--clean/spread compost or leaves spade it under or coarsly till. These will get direct seeded crops as soon as I can get in. This only works in the area I have that drains well.
  5. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 9, 2003
    Clean up the summer stuff and plant some seeds for greens now. Cover what you plant with a row cover, makeshift coldframe, or a good layer of mulch. When march rolls around, you will get an early bonus.
  6. P&B

    P&B Member

    Nov 3, 2004
    I'm originally from So. California and just relocated with my husband to CT and was wondering when to plant certain vegetables. I've never lived in a seasonal climate before and am quite accustom to having a wide variety of fruits and veggies all year round both in the store and in the garden. We will not be moving into a house until Dec. sometime, so what are my options are far as gardening since the ground will be frozen by then and I do not have a green huose available at the moment.

  7. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
  8. Montana Mom

    Montana Mom Well-Known Member

    May 4, 2004
    Montana! :o)
    I'm going to second 3girls suggestion of top-layering. I tried it this year in zone 3-4 and had marvelous results. I had a few blades of grass want to poke through and maybe 1 or 2 flying weeds...thats it!

    If you do want to tear up the ground, I would do it now so that winter weather can help aerate (sp?) and blend the soil with the compost, etc., and again in the spring if it gets hardpacked.

    Good luck.
  9. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

    May 11, 2003
    I third. You don't necessarily even have to do layers, just mow and apply THICK mulch.