Saturday, February 4, 2012

Garden Planning 2012

I am in the midst of planning my garden plot for 2012.  The plot covers only 16 sq ft of area.  For that reason I need to plan carefully to get the most production.  

Last year I dug and planted a 4' square foot garden plot.  I removed a great deal of rocks and large stones from the soil.  I added sand, vermiculite, perlite, blood meal, super phosphate, calcium and composted manure.  When I was finished extracting rocks and stones, digging, turning and racking, the garden soil was level with the existing lawn.
My ground is mostly rock with just an inch or so of topsoil.  Back in the late 60's when my house was built, the builder scraped all of the top soil from the land before building the homes.  Just one inch or so of top soil was returned to cover the sub-soil after building the house.  I dug down two feet into the lawn for the garden plot.  I removed all of the rock and screened the soil through 1/2" hardware cloth.  Added the above soil amendments before I began to plant.
2011 Garden Plot Plan
Magnetic orientation of plot

I divided the plot into 16 - 1' squares, four wide by four deep.  I used 1/2" rebar and other supports on which I strung twine to vertically support the tomato vines.  I sunk one plant in each square except the corn which I seeded with 4 plants per square.

I didn't have enough money to purchase more soil amendments nor did I have the physical energy to increase the amount of soil to mound it above the lawn level.   This proved to be a big mistake.

In May there were two long spells of rainfall.  With each rainfall the plot flooded because of the rock and dense clay structure of the surrounding soil.  The garden soil looked like quicksand.  Many of the plants drowned and had to be replaced.  The growth of the plants that survived, was retarded.  I should have cut a drain into the lawn or built up the soil at least 8" above the lawn level, but I didn't.

In the fall, in an effort to remedy the soil problems, I used a leaf blower to pile all the fallen tree leaves on my front lawn.  I then reversed the blower and sucked the fallen leaves into a trash can.   The blower shredded the leaves and reduced their volume by 80%-90%.  I then surrounded the square plot with 4' high wire fencing and dumped the shredded leaves onto the plot.  The pile was 3' high and 4' square, 1.33 cubic feet of dry, shredded leaves.  I expected the leaves to naturally compost over the next several months.  Sometime in late February or early March, I will turn those leaves into the first 1' of garden plot soil.  That action will add nutrients, retain water and raise the soil above the lawn level.  Hopefully, raising the plot will eliminate the water drainage problem.

All of that in due time.  Now I need to plan carefully and judiciously.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved


  1. You really done a great job. Topsoil is very important for the growth of plants.

  2. Thank you, John. Adding nutrients back to the soil is very important. The crushed leaves add organic material. This organic material loosens the soil, holds moisture as well as feeds beneficial organisms, such as bacteria and worms. Plus the source of the leaves is free, trees in my front yard. My neighbors collected all their leaves, bagged them and placed them on the curb for my collection, if I was so inclined; more free leaves. Everyone should take advantage of these golden opportunities to modify their garden soil for a healthier more productive garden.

  3. You are going about this all wrong. Stop digging up the dirt and rocks. Instead research Square Foot Gardening.

  4. Terry - My back agrees with you. I am still using the first edition of SqFt Gardening when Mel did dig.


Don't be shy. Leave a comment. I won't bite your head off.