Gardening Planting By The Moon Signs

Planting A Garden & Preparing The Soil

Tiller with lay off attachment

In my neck of the woods-it seems more folks than ever before are planting a garden this year. While we always have a garden-we are planning to plant a little more in an effort to curb our weekly grocery expenses this year.

I’m excited to see the first signs of new growth coming from my perennial food plants such as: raspberry leaves, garlic shoots, apple tree buds, and my favorite-Blueberry buds.

Although the last frost date is at least a month away in my area, I have planted my cool weather vegetables. They can withstand a little frost and actually do better in the cool temps. We have cabbage, sugar snap peas, onions, radishes,spinach, and lettuce.

Each year we have a garden at our house, as do Granny and Pap-then we all have a bigger one together-where we plant corn and other items that seem to take up more room. The Deer Hunter tills our garden with a tiller as Pap does his. But Pap hires a friend with a tractor to turn the bigger garden.

In days gone by-when folks absolutely had to have the food that comes from the garden to live-they usually spent part of the winter months “preparing” the soil.  A few of the different ways they improved the soil:

  • They had compost piles-which they added back to the garden each year (I compost and add it back to my garden each year. Slowly it’s helping turn my red clay into luscious dark dirt-just wish it’d speed up a little!)
  • If they lived on the side of a mountain (like I do)-they would terrace out new ground for the coming summer’s garden.
  • They would rake leaves over the garden to add nutrients back into the soil during the fall and winter months-then plow them under in the spring.
  • They would add chicken-horse-cow manure to the garden.
  • Some folks would add ashes.
  • Some folks would leave the previous year’s garden refuse and in early spring till it under to rot and add to the soil.

This year Pap bought a load of…chicken litter for all our gardens-and boy you can tell it as soon as you walk out the door! But the smell will only be a distant memory when we are eating from the bounty.

Have you done any gardening yet? Do you “prepare” your garden each winter-if so how? I’d love to know-so leave me a comment!


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  • Reply
    March 16, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Of course we use the chicken manure as well as leave the remains of the garden to winter over. We are now turning the soil to help the manure mix in and keep it from burning anything we plant. Too bad we aren’t neighbors. Your pap could have all the manure he wanted……free.

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    March 14, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    I typically add a bit of the above but I have a months til the ground thaws 🙂

  • Reply
    The Tile Lady-Marie
    March 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Oh, how I envy you this early planting! It has been years since I’ve been able to have a proper garden. When we lived in Elizabeth City, I dug up a foot and a half wide section along the chain length fence in our back yard, and planted several things, but I am so much looking forward to having a real garden spot–have Mom’s old tiller and everything! I am so anxious, and hopefully I can plant a small fall garden once we get into a new place. At any rate, I am a HUGE believer in composting, and love the rich black soil it makes when it’s done properly. I have also been known to use manure. I have a strong kinship with the soil, but it’s hard for me to indulge in my desire to grow what I want because of my chronic fatigue syndrome….still I do as much as I can!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

    We’re just getting started with ours. Our neighbor stopped by and broke up a place for potatoes–since our tractor is on the blitz–we are going to try some raised beds this year, too. I’m so happy that spring is almost here!!!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I have a month before gardening starts here. The garden space is much too small to do cool-weather/warm-weather crops. I just wait until I can plant tomatoes/peppers/cucumbers which will be late April. (I used to plant on Mother’s Day in Missouri. But they will get their tomatoes sooner in Missouri.) I need to do some winter stuff to my sandy soil, but I never get around to it. I want to have a worm farm for compost, but I don’t have a place to put the container. I need to really, REALLY work on that!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Looks like you have a good start to your garden. The buds and green leaves are a sight for sore winter eyes. Ours haven’t came out yet, and I hope they don’t for a while, because our last frost date is usually May 15th.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I see that you have garlic in your garden. I want to put out some this year. Is it too late?

  • Reply
    March 13, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    We tried a garden last year. We and the squirrels enjoyed it. Nothing went to waste!
    As a kid, I would turn over the compost heap and care for my parents’ garden. I loved it.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I’m only beginning to let myself think about getting into the garden. We’re still buried under snow and I won’t be starting seeds for another few weeks. The signs of spring are wonderful to see here. I prepare my soil by adding the worm castings I collect throughout the winter months and add the decomposed leaves from two falls ago. That’s about it.
    This year, I am going to start doing what a neighbour who was well into his 80s did. He dug a trench in one part of his garden and threw in his veggie scraps and then put a shovelful of dirt on them. He always rotated the part of his garden where the trench was located. He had the best veggies!

  • Reply
    trisha too
    March 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    now i’m going to have to go outside and see if anything is up/out! (the mint probably is.)
    after the garden is finished for the year, we put the last chicken coop cleaning on top. by spring, it’s composted pretty well.
    sad to say, i’m not a very diligent gardener. we get a little weedy . . .

  • Reply
    Brenda S. 'Okie in Colorado'
    March 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I plant a garden for the two of us each year and share with neighbors. If I can, I share with my children out of state. (Pickles, chow chow, tomatoes)
    Best garden I have ever had was using chicken manure. Steer manure creates too many weeds. I am OCD about weeds and weed daily. I will grow birdhouse gourds, several varieties of tomatoes, walla walla onions, jalapeno and red bell peppers, english cucumbers, squash, lettuce, swiss chard, basil, chives, mint, thyme, rosemary,and parsley. All my herbs come up each year. Too early to plant now in my area, but I will start buying my seeds and seedlings soon. Colorado grows the best peaches and cream corn you could ever imagine eating. Like pure sugar! Wish we lived close to share.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    March 13, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Tipper: You are so much further along that we are. I hope you have a great garden that supplies your needs. We can have frosts clear to Memorial Day so we can plant only frost resistant crops like you have.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2009 at 10:31 am

    It’s way too early to plant in my corner of the world. We don’t plant much here until after the 24th of May or the first full moon in May because there’s still chance of a really hard frost.
    This year, as usual, we will be planting tomatoes and green peppers. That is one of our stand-bys. We don’t have room to plant much more but would love to plant some potatoes and other veggies, like peas, corn and yellow beans.
    Enjoyed my visit. I had a little catch-up to do.
    Have a great weekend.

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    March 13, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Inspiring and uplifting photos, Tipper! There’s nothing comparable to the entire experience of a garden. Had one when my ex and I lived in the country, but now that I’m in the city I shop at the organic stores where the prices are outrageous!
    Good luck, Tipper! Your garden is coming along beatifully~! :))

  • Reply
    Matthew Burns
    March 13, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Yes, we prepared the gardens every year. Although we clean them off in the late fall and then do the rest in the spring. There is still snow on the ground here in the mountains of WV so way toooo early to be planting or tilling or the like, but we’ve been poring over the seed catalogs since the first of the year.
    Typically we plow the garden with a tractor or horse. Most people prefer their garden to be plowed by horse and plow, but there’s not too many people that keep plow horses these days, and those that do are in great demand. A horse will work up the ground better than a tractor. After plowing, we then spread lime all over the ground, and add some sort of fertilizer. We like cow manure that has aged. It’s a good time to clean out the barn. Chicken litter is great fertilizer but it also carries alot of weed seeds so we avoid it. It is good if you treat it for a year or so to kill all the seeds in it. Poultry litter is a good way to cover your land in Birds Rape. Horrible stuff, that.
    After spreading the lime, we’d then harrow the garden to break up the larger clods of clay and to bring the rocks to the top of the ground. On our property, we are bless with a fine crop of rocks. Legend says that the Devil broke his apron strings and dropped all of his rocks over our property during his epic “rock fight” with God! I reckon the Devil carried his rocks in an apron! Anyway, we’d harrow (or harr-eee) the ground with an old set of bed springs that we’d drag behind a tractor. Over and over we’d go over the garden. Likewise, if possible, you’d use a horse to do this too.
    After harrowing, everyone would get together and pick rocks, and there’d be plenty. We’d dump them in the ever growing rockpiles that bordered the garden. Some of these piles are over 20 feet high and are the result of generations of rock picking.
    After the rocks were picked, we’d run a tiller through the ground once or twice just to mix in the lime and fertilizer or manure. Then we’d plant. WE typicaly don’t plant anything this early. You plant your tater patch on Good Friday, but everything else a little later. The tater patch was set off to the side of the rest of the garden. Taters like rocky ground so it was less labor intensive to ready that ground.
    After tilling, we’d make our rows with the hoe and plant. We’d typically plant all of our seeds on the same day, if possible, or days in a row. Now we did and still do set out tomato plants a little later. We can’t set out tomato plants until around the end of May and by that time we have lettuce and onions.
    By this time, it was close to the time to hill your potatoes. But after that was done, the garden was left to its own devices except for some weeding on occassion.
    We always grew enough to eat throughout the summer and to can for the winter. Our garden was 2 acres big, and the tater patch was another two acres. I don’t know how we ever mananged it back when I was growing up. these days, the size of our garden is much more modest.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 13, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I don’t raise a garden but I still have to get ready for the season. I’ll need jars, pints and quarts. I ‘ll need inlays, lids, and freezer bags.. I’ll need sure jell and lots of sugar! Must make sure the pressure canner is working and doesn’t need a new gasket. The crocks must be ready for processing sauerkraut, pickles, and pickle beans.
    It’s a lot of work to process the harvest but it is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done!
    Someone told me once that you can process collard greens in a crock with salt just like sauerkraut. I wounder if any of the Blog Family have ever heard of that, and if so how do you do it? I tried it once but it didn’t cure properly. I would be willing to try it again with proper instructions.
    Thanks Tipper, for reminding us that spring really is coming!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Tipper, You’ll never guess where I was today, in the garden! Planting onion plants (not sets)into beds that were made ready last fall. I also reset some pathways because the ducks and chickens sorta made a mess of things in a few areas. I do mostly raised beds. Length really varies and the width is about four feet wide sometimes I need to make them narrower. I work around the rim of ponds so my garden isn’t totally straight either. Some beds received manure of different types last fall and some will receive it soon. I also have a special concoction for my perennial beds, alfalfa pellets, Epsom salt, liquid fish mixed in a garbage can, water enough to soak and swell the alfalfa pellets. Hand-fulls go around roses, berries, or scattered across certain beds.
    Have fun gardening! Loved your tour today!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    March 13, 2009 at 12:37 am

    This year I will plant in containers; whatever I can find. I have very poor dirt(sand) and I will have to buy stuff to doctor it up but I’d really like to try. It’s time to plant now. Next year Lord willing I ‘ll have some good compost. I think all the leaves in Florida shed in my yard.

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    March 13, 2009 at 12:15 am

    This is going to be my first garden since I was a teenager. Hopefully I’ll be able to grow something! I just planted some lettuce and hope to plant more stuff in the next couple of weeks.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    We just got our Spring veggies in this week-just a few peas and some small beds of lettuce, radishes, carrots, onions, and arugula. We have two small raised beds in our backyard, and I miss the big garden my daddy used to grow. But at least the boys get to have a little taste of gardening!
    Since I was in the midst of morning sickness and exhaustion last year, we didn’t have a garden. We are having to claim it back from the crabgrass. The beds were covered in tarps all Fall and Winter to kill things off a bit. Then my husband burned the dead stuff on top, tilled things up by hand, pulled out all the weed roots he could and mixed the ash into the soil. I also have a compost bin, but it is just getting started. No good compost for the garden yet!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Some years we do a cover crop that we plant in the late fall or very early spring. Usually vetch or sometimes a quick rye grass. Then we till it back into the soil when we are ready to plant. Helps control weeds and adds nutrients back to the soil. We didn’t do that this year though. By the way, we planted our potatoes on Tuesday and still have probably 15 pounds of seed potatoes. Do you want them to plant?

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    We don’t have a garden but we sure do wish we could. My husband can’t take the heat since his chemo and I’m allergic to the dirt. Well, the mold in it. We try to do a little but can’t do much so I have to buy what I can. I used to can a lot when we lived near several truck farmers. I’d love to still do that so I might have to just bite the bullet and buy my vegetables. blessings, marlene

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    We are about where you are…I was so excited to see my blueberries starting to bud…until the SNOW we got today! Dang it!

  • Reply
    Rick M
    March 12, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    This is the frist time in years for me to plant. But I’ve stated a few weeks ago getting my garden ready. I have potatos and onion planted already. I have my tomato and pepper plant started from seed indoor and they look great never did that before. I going to put my gabbage plant this weekend.

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    March 12, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    We had someone come in and till deep about three weeks ago and then it came a cold snap, so all I’ve put in were onions and some garlic last week. Plan on planting potatoes by the weekend. I did put in some cabbage and some cauliflower Monday and then Tuesday night had to go and cover them because we have a cold wave visiting us right now.
    But I still have a ton of stuff that I want to do to get ready for squash, green beans and black-eyed peas, radishes, peppers and, of course, okra.
    Fun post. Thank you for the photos of the new shoots and leaves. It gives one hope…

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    March 12, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Tipper, Thanks for the post. I miss the days when we used to plant a vegetable garden as a family. Everyone worked and everyone shared in the harvest.
    There is nothing in the grocery store that comes close to tasting as good as home grown tomatoes, potatoes, beans and okra.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    March 12, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    We don’t have much space for a garden as such. I clean out the chicken house and put the “litter”, as you called it, around the base of my fig tree. I have a small bed against a fence that gets some decent sun. I have tried several diferent things there over the years. This year a put a tomato and 2 peppers. I can usually coax a few herbs here and there, mostly in pots. This year I am also trying to grow tomatoes in hanging 5-gallon buckets – upside down. We’ll see how it goes. I envy your garden space. Have fun with it.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Look at you and those macro shots. Way to go.
    I am just getting started with the garden. Usually, over the winter, I till it atleast once adding leaves and manure.
    I went seed shopping yesterday and we are supposed to get rain soon. It may be next week before I can start tilling. I just hope I can keep up with it this year.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    It’s still cold here. We had snow on the ground this week, although the early tulips and crocus are peeking through! Our garden is quite small – but we have seven apple trees and usually have a wonderful harvest from those. I can’t wait for spring to really get here!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    LOL – I can’t even see my garden yet! The snow was so early in the fall that the flower beds didn’t get cleaned up. This will be the first year for a kitchen garden for me so once the snow goes away I’ll have plenty to do.

  • Reply
    Kerrie Kerns
    March 12, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Hi there! My place is a poopy mess at the moment. Trying to get the soil amended, new ground turned for a new garden area (thanks to Hurricane Ike I have my sunny areas…). I have that compost thing going as well. We finally got some rain so that will help my plants. I use rabbit and chicken manure—and have no shortage of it!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    We have months before we can plant. Well, weeks. Our last frost can be as late as Memorial Day, but we’ll plant the hardy plants much sooner. Still, our garden is under water right now, and I have a lake in my side yard from the snow melt and all the rain we’ve had.
    Thanks for the photos, I wish we could plant this early!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    It’s still cold here. We had snow on the ground this week, although the early tulips and crocus are peeking through! Our garden is quite small – but we have seven apple trees and usually have a wonderful harvest from those. I can’t wait for spring to really get here!

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