Vegetables and Fruit forum: prepare beds now for spring or wait??

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Name: Tom
Springfield IL
GreenAmbitions
Oct 15, 2015 11:01 AM CST
Hello everyone, I am brand new to gardening and my wife and I are planning to grow our own fruits and veggies next spring. I have recently built an outdoor compost bin and a tumbler and started piling material for composting. We have mapped out eight 4'x8' raised bed boxes on the back side of our property. My question is should I till the bed areas and build the boxs now or do it in early spring? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Oh we are also in zone 5. Springfield IL to be exact. Thank you!!
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Oct 15, 2015 12:55 PM CST
I have done it both ways, but I like it better when I do most of the prep in the fall, as then I can get right to planting and don't have all of that prep work to do. Some years I get it done, and some years I don't. I don't think it matters much to the plants. Smiling
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Tom
Springfield IL
GreenAmbitions
Oct 15, 2015 6:01 PM CST
Thank you for the reply! I am pretty excited to start so as long as the weather cooperates im going to try and get as many of the beds done as possible
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Oct 16, 2015 4:25 AM CST
Have fun! If you run into problems, there are lots of people who use raised beds, and I'm sure they would be willing to share their experiences. Smiling
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Oct 16, 2015 9:49 AM CST
Welcome! to ATP.

I agree with Tom. I would do as much of the "labor" in the fall. I grow garlic during the fall/winter months, so I have no choice but to prepare my raised beds in October.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Oct 17, 2015 9:33 PM CST
Welcome to All Things Plants, @GreenAmbitions !

I totally agree, do as much as you can this fall... in the spring you will be very happy you did! (and then you can spend the winter months planning and re-planning what you are going to plant where...)

Smiling
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Oct 19, 2015 4:17 PM CST
Welcome Tom. I've read that every hour spent in prep work in the fall saves two hours in the spring. I have no idea if this is true or not, but it rather makes sense to me, particularly if you can get your gardens edged, weeded, and thickly mulched in the fall. I always strive for that, but am usually only marginally successful before the rains drive me inside.
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Oct 21, 2015 6:50 PM CST
Hi Tom! Welcome to ATP!

I like your priorities: compost, Compost, COMPOST ... and fairly narrow raised beds.

I would urge you to do as much work as you have time and energy for, right now.

Turn, amend with compost, top-dress with compost, make sure the beds have good drainage ...
then mulch or add lots more top-dress compost.

Ain't no faster or easier way to compost something than to turn it under the soil.
That also captures 100% of the nutrients in the raw compost makin's, whereas a heap or tumbler drips "tea" with the best nutrients.

Well, OK. There is a faster way. Grind it small before turning it under.


If you do as much work as possible now, then you can plant peas and lettuce as soon as the rain and cold abate.

I tend to postpone things, then spring is completely taken up by weeding and I may not find time to plant at all. More mulch = less weeding.


P.S. It sounds like there will be an ATP seed swap some time soon. That's a great way to trade away half of each large seed pkt that you buy, to get in return much more variety than you would have bought for yourself.

This thread is jumping up and down like someone desperate to get into the Men's Room, kibitzing and wheedling as Dave develops a flexible trading feature to add to the website.

The thread "ATP Annual Seed and Plant Exchange Idea" in Site Talk forum
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Oct 22, 2015 6:06 AM CST
You can also just apply the compost to the top of the bed and cover it with a tarp and let the worms and insects do the work for you. When spring comes there will be no weeds, and the compost will have been integrated into the soil. No tilling necessary, just plant, then redo the same procedure next fall making sure you rotate crops from year to year.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Oct 22, 2015 4:15 PM CST
I don't till and I put as much compost as I can on top of my veggie beds. And I plant right in the compost. The veggies love it.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
Oct 24, 2015 12:25 PM CST
I defrosted a bunch of salmon carcasses and buried them in my raised beds. They will be gone well before next spring. I really need leaves to mix in. Guess there is only one way to get them. Ugh. Maybe I can pay the neighbor kids to do it for me like last year.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Oct 24, 2015 2:00 PM CST
When my hubby used to fish I buried fish heads and carcasses in the garden all the time. Had to dig them pretty deep so the racoons didn't dig them up. But all fish parts leftover after cleaning them for eating were used so nothing went to waste!
Name: Cayuga
Massachusetts (Zone 6a)
Cayuga
Oct 24, 2015 7:19 PM CST
All this talk of fall garden prep has inspired me to get out to the garden tomorrow! I have planted a cover crop on about 1/2 the garden, the rest still has dead vegie stalks waiting to be cleared away.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Oct 25, 2015 8:01 AM CST
That's a good use of available fish parts, Mary/Rita. Hurray!
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Oct 25, 2015 3:01 PM CST
The only time I tried using fish in my garden was when I was much, MUCH younger; we figured we would plant our corn the way the Native Americans did, with fish for fertilizer... thanks to the skunks and racoons I replanted my corn 3 times that year Rolling on the floor laughing

Probably a much better idea to put it in the garden in the late fall the way Mary is doing...
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Oct 25, 2015 5:21 PM CST
You have to bury the fish really deeply as the racoons do love to dig it up.
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Oct 26, 2015 8:49 PM CST
I love all this talk of new garden installation! Just yesterday I constructed and filled a 4x12x12 bed. I used 1/2 black dirt and 1/2 composted manure on top of logs from the forest. I also mixed in some aged alpaca manure with straw. Soon I will add a huge ( up past my waist) of perlite and vermiculite. These help with drainage.

I will top it off with shredded leaves.

I am also interested in seed swapping @RickCorey.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Oct 27, 2015 5:15 AM CST
You should have a super-fertile garden in the spring, Reid. Perlite will certainly help with drainage, but I don't think the vermiculite will. Vermiculite in my hands only seems to increase water retention. Vermiculite is great for seed starting though. I use perlite extensively in all my potting media and garden soil.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 27, 2015 6:05 PM CST
Anderwood said:...
I am also interested in seed swapping @RickCorey.


Bluespiral suggested I start a thread in the "Seeds" forum about collecting, saving and buying seeds ... specifically for seed swaps.

But work is busy right now. I've placed two seed orders in preparation for the swap I HOPE is going to happen fairly soon.



[Last edited by RickCorey - Oct 28, 2015 5:49 PM (+)]
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Name: Judy
Simpsonville SC (Zone 7b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
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SCButtercup
Oct 30, 2015 2:56 AM CST
I do lasagna method on my raised beds, heaping layers of compost separated by sheets of newspaper, wetting it all with hose then more layers. My layers are free materials: huge bags of coffee grounds from Starbucks, bags of dried chicken manure from a chicken hobbyist, shredded leaves (no raking, run over them with mower that has a bag attachment) from my backyard trees. No tilling, the worms do it. Also I do not cover with atarp because rainwater is important ingredient.

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