Answer: If you had problems with only one type of vegetable in your garden, I'd say there were insect or diseases at work, but when your entire garden fails, it's usually cultural or environmental troubles at work. Vegetable gardens need all day sunshine, rich well draining soils and adequate water and nutrition. I suspect the problems with your garden have to do with poor soil quality. To ensure success next year, here are some suggestions for soil preparation:
The first thing you need to do is clean out the garden. Remove any dead plants from the previous gardening year. Some plants and roots will have completely decomposed and you can leave those to enrich the soil. If there are any noticeable stems, leaves or roots from your plants you will want to remove those from the garden. It is also very important to make sure you have taken up all stakes and fences from your garden. Be sure to remove any tomato cages or any wire that you used for staking the plants upright. This will prevent any problems during tilling time. No one wants wire wrapped around the tines of your tiller!
Once your garden is clean you will want to start tilling. A motorized tiller works the best to loosen up the soil and mix the roots up. As you are tilling you will want to take any large clumps of soil and separate them. If you have enough time you may want to till the entire garden 2-3 times. That is not necessary, but will break up the soil more and make the garden bed a little softer.
After tilling, you will want to apply your fertilizer. Fertilizing can be done prior to tilling also. The tiller will mix the fertilizer deep into the soil, so you will want to watch how much you apply and be sure to have a good mixture of soil and fertilizer. Some plants vegetables like different fertilizer levels, so you will want to have your garden plan designed so you can fertilize according to which plants will be where.
Allow the fertilizer to settle for a few days and then apply a nice covering of water. By moistening the soil, the fertilizer will break down and the seeds will have a nice level of moisture in the soil. When soaking the garden you will also want to take special attention to any low or high lying areas.
After the water has been absorbed you will want to go in and level the garden. This will help during the growing season to prevent any areas that become too damp and the water will sit there, as well as high areas that will not receive enough moisture. If you garden is on a slope, you may want to consider building up the low side so that all the water does not run down and off the high side of the garden. If you would like you can form simple terraces to make for more level ground.
Once your garden is cleaned, tilled, fertilized, watered and leveled you are all ready for planting! Having a nicely prepared garden bed will make for a wonderful garden.
Best wishes with next year's garden!
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