The Q&A Archives: New Garden

Question: I am starting a new garden for my wife and kids. We picked a 9x12 spot in our back yard, which was all grass. I cut the grass as low as I could get it and I am in the process of tilling the soil. We are going to buy some plants, and also plant some seeds. I have tilled about 3/4 of the area, so far so good. I am tilling the grass up and mulching it in the soil. I need help from here. What should I add to the soil for the best results, and will the old grass hurt? What are the best plants for a first time gardener, I would hate to disappoint the kids. The plot is in a northern exposure with full sun. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Sometimes a new garden spot can be a bit of a challenge for a season or so. This can be part of your teaching the kids about gardening...the best things in life take time!

You can rototill in the old grass if you like, but it needs time to decompose or the garden plants may suffer a bit. If you could wait 2 weeks after tilling and then retill, you may get better results. This second tilling is a good time to mix in any nutrients or pH changing ingredients indicated on a soil test. Check with your local County Extension Office for information on testing your soil if you haven't already done so.

Good plants to start with include: tomatoes, bush beans, squash, and watermelon (give them room!). Just keep in mind that each veggie has its season, so get a good local planting schedule (your Extension Office should have one) and follow it closely.

In case some of that grass or other weeds should decide it wants to return, wait until garden plants are up and mulch the rows with newspaper 4 sheets thick, wet down and promptly covered with leaves or dry grass clippings. It will save much frustration and discouragement in weeding later.

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