Starting A Garden - Knowledgebase Question

Chicago, Il
Avatar for phelecia_sla
Question by phelecia_sla
March 13, 2010
Hello-every year I want to start a garden but tend to miss the start date. I live in Chicago and want to know when is the best time to start preparing and planting.

Answer from NGA
March 13, 2010
In the Chicago area your average last frost date is about April 22. This means you can start seeds indoors now, or you can wait until after the third week of April to sow your seeds directly in the garden. Now is a great time to start preparing your garden bed. Start by removing all vegetation from the area and spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the vegetable bed. You can use compost, aged manure (fresh manure can be too hot and might contain weed seeds), shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig or till this organic matter into the soil - 8-10 inches deep. Plant your veggies and mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular vegetable garden. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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