Question about Garden plot for this year? Will do best answer and 5 starts for good advice!?

George asks: Question about Garden plot for this year? Will do best answer and 5 starts for good advice!?
Have a garden plot that had some grass on it but I stripped that bare in the fall.

I added organic matter in the form of leaves form the yard from various trees.

Let it sit, then added tons of leaves, and mowed it up, so there was at least a good 5 inches of leaves that looked like they went through a blender.

I double dub it all in. I think double digging the “clayish” soil was probably the best thing for it, above all else. The organic matter helped for sure though.

Now it’s settling nicely.

I’m wondering though, should I do raised beds? Or just mix in some good soil where I plant?

I want to fill in the garden so much, but I understand I have to avoid over crowding.

I want to plant like 100 tomatoes in a 8×2 ft row ya know, because they’re so tiny when I plant them.

But I understand they need to be about a foot an a half away from each other!

I’m considering doing rows of each plant, and there’s some herbs in there too.

I think it’s best I separate the perennials from the annual vegetables, that way I can keep tilling up the soil where the vegetables were.

But I’m still worried about that thick clay soil.

I’ve gotten many tomatoes to grow in worse, but I’m hoping for a nice garden this year!

The answer voted best is:

Answer by M W
You’re doing everything right, except you need to mix in vegetable scraps from your kitchen. You also need to find a way to get some garden earth worms in there.

If you dig down at least 12″, you will break up the clay and the amendments you put in will begin to break down and loosen up the soil. It can take 5 years to get really good garden soil when you start with that stuff that you can hardly get your shovel into.

If you want raised beds, you should probably bring in some top soil and then you have to amend that, so it’s like starting over. I would just put some kind of border around the garden plot to define the area, like that 4″ stuff they put around the base of trees.

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One comment

  1. Hi George

    It sounds like you have been doing very well with your garden. I have raised beds and also conventional rows. I use the raised beds (3 of them) which are 4’x8′ for things like lettuce and growing vegetables in the fall and winter. I like them for that because I bent PVC pipe and I can cover them with shade cloth in the summer and clear plastic in the fall. The only thing I don’t like about raised beds is they require constant watering.

    The best thing you can do since you have done well with your soil is to take a soil sample and have it analyzed. This will adjust your Ph balance and also tell you your fertilizer needs. Don’t skip on this step with clay type soils.

    I am converting all of my flat gardening to a type of raised bed that doesn’t need as much watering as regular raised beds. I am making rows 4 feet wide with a 2 foot walkway between them and using that soil to raise the beds up to about 6″ in height. So in effect you get the same advantages of a raised bed without the constant watering problem you have with raised beds.

    As for your tomatoes, either buy transplants or raise your own inside but don’t crowd them when you plant them outside. They need to be 18-24 inches apart because they grow so large therefore, you’ll only get about 4 or 5 in an 8 foot row.. If you have 100 tomato plants, you are going to feed an army. Unless you are going into the farmers market business, I think I’d reconsider planting so many. 20 plants or so will give an average family all the tomatoes they can use I think.

    Yes, you need to plant your perennial vegetables along your garden borders so they won’t be in the way of your cultivating and tending to your annual crops.

    I have never double dug a garden and don’t think it is necessary. I know Mel Bartholomew the author of “Square Foot Gardening” says you only need 6″ of soil to grow any crops other than long root crops such as carrots etc. I use a tiller and have never gone deeper than 6-8″ and have never had any problem.

    Last year I made one of my raised beds using what they call the “Lasagna Method” and planted in it right after I finished it (Last 4 inches was good soil). This is the richest soil you’ve ever seen and plants just jump out of it. Right now I have carrots and rutabagas growing in it. You might like to experiment with one of those.

    Hope this helps


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