The Q&A Archives: New to gardening.

Question: I am planting a garden where there is currently grass. What should I do to prepare the area for a vegetable garden. I'd like to plant tomatoes and herbs and something else that is simple to plant also how do I keep the deers away? I live in the country.

Answer: What a great idea! You'll want to remove the sod first. Either cut it out in strips or rototil the entire area and then remove the grass. Let the tilled garden sit for a few weeks, and till again. This will take care of any newly sprouted weeds.

It's always a good idea to add organic matter to any garden soil. Organic matter improves drainage on heavy soils, and helpswater-holding capacity on sandy soils. Incorporate compost, shredded leaves, grass clippings, well-rotted manure, or other organic matter directly into the soil when you first turn it over in the spring. (Wait a few weeks to plant if you use non-composted additions.) Then throughout the season, use grass clippings or shredded leaves as a mulch--it will keep down weeds and add even more organic matter.

After preparing the soil, plant your seeds or seedlings. To suppress weeds you might want to place a thick layer of organic mulch over the bare soil.

Fencing is the only sure way of keeping deer away from your vegetable garden.

Good luck with your new adventure!

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