Preparing a Vegetable Garden - Knowledgebase Question

Pocatello, ID
Question by freewa13
April 5, 1998
When is the best time to begin preparing the ground for a medium sized family vegtable garden in southeast Idaho, and what type of fertilizer would you suggest? When would be the best time to begin planting?


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Answer from NGA
April 5, 1998

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As soon as the snow melts and soil dries out, it would be a good time to turn over the soil and start your vegetable garden. You can tell if the soil is dry by taking a small handful of the soil and squeezing it. If water trickles out or if the ball you formed it still solid and doesn't break apart easily, then it's too early.

Once you till, it would be a good idea to add a 3-4 inch layer of old, composted manure and till that in. That will add fertility and tilth to the soil. Don't use fresh manures. I would start planting cool season crops such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach and peas the beginning of May. I'd wait to plant warm season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, squash and beans until the end of May. Buying the tomatoes and peppers from a local greenhouse as transplants is the way to go for a beginning gardener. When planting work in a small handful of fertilizer such as 5-10-10 (organic or chemical) with the seeds or plants.

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