Spring is here!! Spring marks the beginning of the gardening season. YAY! We have successfully planted and cultivated a backyard garden for years, and really enjoy everything about it. When we were living in our former home, the garden just kept getting better and better every year. The plants grew more plentiful, especially when we started our own compost, and adding it to the soil. It was like magic. It was awesome.

Our garden in Waltham – August 2015

Last spring, we had been in our new home for a few months and went ahead with the garden preparation as usual. Unfortunately, though, the garden location was not ideal, we weren’t so familiar with the soil on our new property, and the entire thing was an epic failure. 🙁 It was so sad because for so many years we were used to this amazingly plentiful garden. Luckily we still had our CSA. There are so many things to consider as you plan your backyard garden, and even experienced gardeners such as ourselves can miss the boat completely.

Here are the steps we take to ensure a plentiful garden:

1. Choose a spot with adequate sunlight ☀️

This is such an important step. As close to the planting date as possible, stand in the spot you have chosen at different times throughout the day. A plentiful garden needs an abundance of sun throughout the day for the entire growing season. Full sun is best for most vegetables. We have always had full sun and everything we plant does well with this environment. Definitely research this though because the plants you want to grow may need different amounts of sunlight. In this case, you could potentially have some plants, like herbs, in a small window box, or in a container and move it to a location that matches the sunlight it needs.

2. Cultivate the soil

This step takes time and manpower, but it is SO worth it! Brian has been using a tiller than he rents from Home Depot for years now to prepare the soil at least two weeks before planting. It just makes the job so much easier and gets the soil, and anything you add to it such as compost and manure, mixed in really well with the existing soil. First, he dumps all of our compost from our home compost bins onto the ground and makes a pass through the entire area with the tiller. Then he adds additional soil, compost, and manure and makes another pass through the entire area again. You can test the soil readiness by picking up a handful of soil. If it falls out of your hand easily, it is too sandy, and it needs more organic material added it to. Brian has been preparing the soil so many years that he just eyeballs it.

3. Research how to arrange the plants in the garden

Some plants thrive when planted near each other, and some don’t. It’s worth it to do a quick search on Mr. Google for ‘companion planting.’ The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a great resource and has great articles and videos on this topic. I found this article useful on companion planting. Also, this chart is a great reference that displays plants ‘friends and foes.’ We usually keep all the tomatoes together since that’s our largest crop and everything else separate. Usually, the basil is next to the tomatoes – they make good planting friends. 🍅

Here’s to an awesome gardening season! 🌱 Be sure check right here on the blog and on Instagram for our garden progress this season! Do you do anything else to prepare your garden for success? Let me know in the comments of this post.

Until next time,
💚 Jenny

Garden Prep 2017

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