Make a new garden or pathway with cardboard and mulch
Anyone who has ever tried to dig up fresh turf knows how time-consuming it is—and most municipalities won’t take sod in their yard bags. To create a fresh garden or pathway overtop of grass, simply place a layer of corrugated cardboard overtop of the area, give it a little spray with the hose to moisten and cover with a few inches of compost. You may want to grab some bricks or rocks to hold the corners down. Over the season, the cardboard will break down and simply become part of the garden.
Why should you freshen up your raised beds with compost each spring?
There are a few reasons to amend your soil in the springtime. The main reason is that the plants that you pulled out after the previous growing season will have depleted the soil of nutrients. Furthermore, the roots will have taken some soil with them to the yard bags, as well. Adding a few inches of compost in the spring or fall adds nutrients back into your garden (it’s a good idea to keep some on reserve to sprinkle in the garden throughout the season, as well). Secondly, after a few heavy rains, the soil flattens down, so you want to keep your raised beds nice and full.
What kind of soil should I use in container gardens?
Not all soils are created equal. Top soil, for example, is much too heavy to put in a container. You want to purchase something that will provide good aeration and that will allow the pot to drain well. Look for bags that feature a container-ready mix. The label will say something like All-Purpose Potting Soil or Organic Potting Soil. These should be well-formulated for planting both food and flowers. Also, only fill to about one to two inches from the top, so that when you water, soil and water doesn’t spill over the side.
To till or not to till your garden?
There is much debate online about whether to till your garden soil each year, but more and more scientific evidence is pointing to leaving it alone and simply amending the soil at the start of spring. The reason is there is a whole flurry of micro-activity happening beneath the soil that is disturbed once you start digging and hoeing. Instead of digging around and upsetting the soil structure, top-dress your garden with a couple of inches of compost in the spring and again in the fall. Over time, if soil is hard-packed or clay underneath, it will gradually become more loose and friable.
How do you add manure to a vegetable garden?
Manure is a great soil amendment choice. Composted manure will contain carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, all essential nutrients for plant growth. When you add manure to a garden, especially an edible one, you want to make sure it’s in a well-rotted state. Whatever you purchase in a bag will have had ample time to decompose so that it’s safe to use on crops. Top-dress your raised bed or garden with a couple of inches of compost in the fall (so you don’t have to worry about it come spring), or in the springtime before planting.