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Prepping the Gardens

The time to put plants and seeds in the ground finally showed up. The busiest time of the year for us because before we can plant, a little bit of prep work has to happen.

Finished garden box.

For our raised beds, it’s pretty easy. We top off the boxes with compost, and mix it in. Then we’re ready to go. Once the plants and seeds are in the boxes, we’ll add mulch.

For the fenced in gardens on either side of the chicken coop, which we refer to as the Spring Garden and the Summer Garden, those take a little more effort.

First, we have to clean up anything that doesn’t belong. Old plant tags, garbage, sticks, etc. Last year I used old hay as mulch and some of it had some funky looking mold or fungus on it. I needed to do a little bit of research to see if it was okay to leave or mix into the soil. The hay had decomposed enough that I wouldn't be able to reuse it as mulch this year, but I mixed it into the soil to allow it to continue to decompose, thereby releasing more nutrients into the soil throughout the year as this season’s plants grow.

Tilled and ready to plant.

Next, I had to decide how to mix up the top layer of soil. I know tilling is not ideal, but it’s what’s we have right now, and it will help bring up rocks that need to come out. Once the tilling is done, we’ll be ready to plant.

For the garden in our field, that area also needed to be tilled as the tractor had gone over it all winter and the soil was seriously compacted.

It might not sound like a lot, but when you consider that the spring and summer gardens are both 20 x 40 feet and the field garden is 40 x 40 feet, it’s a lot of ground to clean up and prep.

Thankfully, since the snow melted unevenly in our yard, we were able to work on these areas a little at a time as the soil dried out and became workable.

Field garden, tilled and ready to plant.

And after the plants were planted, everything needed to be mulched. Mulch helps keep the soil moist longer, suppresses weeds, and as it breaks down adds nutrients to the soil. This year I’ll be using a variety of mulches including hay the goats have wasted, straw, and wood chips.

This season of prepping gardens is always insane and somehow, every winter I always forget how sore my whole body gets during this time. But when it's all done, and the plants are thriving and producing, it's all worth it.

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