The Q&A Archives: Ideas for a First Garden

Question: I'm going to start my first garden in a patch about 4' X 5' in my backyard. I do not know what to do with the soil before I begin planting. Also, I have a two-year old and would like to incorporate something(s) for him to help grow. Do you have any suggestions? Stacey Talancon Sacramento, CA

Answer: The first thing to do is get a soil test to find out about your soil. The results will tell you what amendments you need--for example, do you need lime to raise the pH? Next, turn over the soil to lighten it and get out weeds and rocks. You can findsomeone with a rototiller or do it yourself. The garden size your are proposing is good for a salad garden. With intensive growing you could accomodate a couple of tomato plants, carrots, radishes, lettuce, bush cucumbers, a green pepper, or what ever you want to plant in one foot squares. Your two year old might enjoy planting radishes, since they come up so quickly, and children always enjoy harvesting carrots. Perhaps a special flower or two--a zinnia or miniature sunflower, for example, would be a special gardening treat.

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