vegetable garden

Old 11-14-00, 08:58 PM
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I have never had a vegetable garden before. My new home already had one. Since it's fall, I pulled up the plants that were already there, hoed the plot, and left the decaying vegetables in the soil to fertilize it. I have no idea if I have hurt the soil. I am also wondering if I should place leaves over the plot to protect the soil in the winter and to act as a mulch in the spring when I prepare to plant the seeds.
Old 11-17-00, 08:47 AM
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Wow, are you in for some fun!

You don't say how big your garden is, or your intent with it, so I'm going to assume its a small kitchen garden for fresh veggies.

For now, I would just do this: Remove all the plant material, as you want to get out any diseases that might have been there. (You will learn how to recognise some diseases as time goes on). Create a little compost pile for them to rot in, and you can move the rotted material back into the garden later. For the moment, it only needs to be a little pile. You can make the pile more formal (with containment) later.

I wouldn't put leaves over the soil - you will likely introduce a lot of weed seeds that way. I think it's OK to leave it bare, or you could mulch with a bit of straw if you want (watch for weeds again). Put the leaves in your new compost pile. I mulch with straw during the growing season and it really cuts down on the watering.

Use this winter to go to the library, and check out some books on gardening. This is generally the "down time" for gardeners, where people do their maintenance and planning. But if you don't do something for your garden this winter that you would have otherwise done, you won't really hurt anything.

You'll probably find the books a lot of fun. Veggie gardening isn't that hard if you enjoy it. Use some common sense when you read the books - you don't have to do everything they say, some will go overboard for what you want - they are giving you ALL the info you could possibly want to do everything perfectly. Pick and choose, go by trial and error - this is what everyone does, and you will learn new things every year.

Once you read a book or 2, you can think about what you want to plant, how much space you have, and make up a little plan for yourself. You can go to the hardware store and look at seed packets to get an idea of how much space things take up, and how they need to be germinated, and how much time they need to grow to produce (this is important if you live in a short season area). Take a few notes. Plants you might want to buy seedlings of include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. Easy plants to start from seed include any squash/pumpkin, beans, peas, lettuce, spinach. A good rule of thumb for veggies is: the bigger the seed, the easier to start.

Start small - you don't want to overwhelm yourself. Don't start too many things indoors from seed the first year until you get a handle for it. Talk to your neighbors, ask when they start their seeds and plants, ask if you can do it together so you can follow what they do. Above all, relax, gardening can be tremendous fun!

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