I took a trip down to our garden on Monday after most of Sunday night’s snow melted to see what kind of mess I have on my hands when I start prepping in a couple weeks. I’d like to get in there and do all of the clean-up that didn’t get done in the fall so that when it comes time to plant, that’s all I have to worry about.
Something I’d noticed earlier in the winter is just how bad the drainage is in the aisles of the new beds we created at the end of last summer. We knew it was bad, due to the nonsense we had to deal with where the potatoes were concerned, but we figured by raising beds and having aisles, it would help. The issue still stands though that water just isn’t draining quickly enough and will end up saturating the raised beds anyways.
This will have to be rectified as the cleaning is taking place. What I’m going to do for the time being is angle the aisles toward the outside of the garden and make sure that there is a clear path for the water to all run out. It’ll be a little time-consuming and back-breaking, but better that than root rot, you know? In the future we’ll probably install actual drainage systems (corrugated tubing and the like) if we need to.
I’ll also have to salvage what pieces of our deer fence didn’t get destroyed and see if I can Frankenstein another fence. It’ll be less than half the size of last years garden, so I wont need nearly as much fencing, but I’m not sure what kind of state it’s in since the deer got hungry and plowed through it this winter.
Also on the to-do list is trim back the grape vines and rake underneath really well. One of the leading causes of black rot is when previously infected portions of the vine (dead leaves and fruit) hang around, just waiting for some hot and humid weather so their spores can transfer and start the cycle all over again.
We’re also going to have to head out and pick up a couple loads of compost and maybe some manure to add to each bed as well. Since we’re starting to do no-till gardening, it’ll be important to start adding the layers that are going to feed our crops and leave the existing soil fairly undisturbed so as to not give all of the dormant weeds the perfect recipe to take over.
My hope is that a lot of the number of larvae of common pests that were looking forward to their emergence in the spring has been drastically reduced to make gardening a little easier this year. I understand that sometimes, life is just going to hand you all sorts of obstacles at once and you just have to figure out how to get past them all, but I’d prefer garden pests to be very low on the list at a time when we’ve got a baby on the way and eating healthy is of utmost importance for our family.
Currently, some of our beds still have fall crops decomposing in them and others have the cover crops we planted doing the same. The decomposing crops will have to be tossed in the compost, but the cover crops will stay and we’ll just layer the compost and manure right on top of them. They should not only act as fertilizer, but as a kind of weed barrier a well, so we’ll see how well they do the trick!
In the fall of 2012, we removed the spent asparagus fern a little too early and din’t give the berries a chance to fall and repopulate and didn’t capitalize on the maximum amount of photosynthesizing the plant could accomplish. This year, well, they’re still there, which will be another part of the clean-up process. What we didn’t get around to doing is layering compost and straw on top of the bed to feed it through the winter, so we’ll have to get some on there as soon as everything thaws to give it a little spring feeding.
As far as the greenhouse is concerned, I made the mistake of using regular ol’ drop cloth plastic (no UV protection) and it definitely shows. It’s all about learning from your mistakes, I suppose! If we get into fall/winter crops at the end of the year, we’ll probably go in a bit of a different direction with a raised bed and a solid top with a glass or plexi-glass cutout. The nice thing about getting snow on something like that is that the snow will actually insulate it and keep the temperatures up.
Speaking of the greenhouse, there are actually still some crops that are alive in there, so come spring when it starts warming up, we might have a wonderful crop of spinach and lettuce to greet us!
Once all of the clean-up is done, it’ll probably be a good time to get some spring crops in the ground (peas, carrots, lettuce, spinach, etc.) to join the garlic that’s currently there and then it wont be too much longer til we’re ready for the whole shebang!
Next up in the garden planning will be the clean-up itself and then a solid garden plan and seed starting later in the month, so stay tuned for all of that, and happy gardening!
What kind of changes will you be making to your garden this year?