I am no pro at this, in fact I have only planted 2 out of 3 seasons with Ellie-Mae, although Em and I have been growing gardens for about 20 years now. Her father has been planting large plots for almost 60 years, so some of the things that work well for small farms have been well learned.
Starting a Garden:1. Decide
where the ideal spot on your acreage is for the garden taking into consideration drainage, slope, soil, and the crops that you wish to harvest.2. Lay out
the garden and then plow with your Cub-193. There are some pics in a PowerPoint of how we have done our main beds Ellie's First Plowing
, as well as our Potato Patch, Rudi's Hiller
on the server. 3. Discing.
After plowing and you have let the garden lay for about a week, this provides time for the soil to dry a bit and for the weeds and grasses to start dying, it is time for discing. Discing allows the turned over sod to be broken/cut up into much smaller pieces which will break down more readily.
For those of us who love seat time, this is an ideal way to get it. The more discing you do, the finer your soil will become. I would let it sit a day then do the second discing on the second day, let it lay for another day and then do it again. You can do this until it reaches the desired feel that you want.4. Soil prep.
In the days before soil analysis, most small truck farmers in our area did a couple of things. They used manure if available and spread it on the field. They then disced it in, or plowed and then disced again. Seaweed has also been used as weill as fish offal and other types of compost. This will provide a lot of vital nutrients to your soil. In our area, Gypsum deposits are quite plentiful and even thought the mining has now ceased, gypsum is readily available in bulk, and for free. Many use gypsum as an additive to help break down the clay that we have in layers here. Our soils are similar to PEI -- the reddish loam, but we have layers of clay as well, so the preps are a great thing to do. This is done on a yearly basis as well.5. Let this set
over the winter or at least a month. Here we have winter for at least 3 to 5 months or so, so there is a lot of time for the soil additives to become entrenched.6. Use a spring harrow
to level the ground prior to your spring prep.7. Next make your rows.
In a small truck garden most veggies like being in rows/hills. Normally what we do is to drive the Cub starting at the side of the garden down the row to be. The next pass you align the right hand tire (as viewed from the seat) with the track already made. Each succeeding row is done the same. After you garden has been laid out, we then manually fertilize each track. This is where our hills go. We then hill up the rows. After this, we make a small trench in each hill and this is where we plant. We then re-hill. As you can see by the Hiller presentation, hilling is good for potatoes and other root crops. It also benefits beans, peas, tomatoes, pumpkin, squash, oh just about everything. The best part about hilling is that it makes it much easier to side dress as well as fertilize in the row for bringing up on the hills as you cultivate.8. Cultivation
is important. It does a number of things. It controls weed and grass growth in the valleys as well as the sides of the hills. It also loosens the soil and provides areation. Also, it adds volume to the hill to ensure that the every expanding root systems are constantly covered.
For me, this is one of the most enjoyable parts -- the seat time I get is entirely determined by how long I want to spend or how many times a week I wish to spend in the seat cultivating. It is over-kill, as it is for much of what I do expecially if I like it, but I usually cultivate 2 or 3 times per week. It certainly keeps the weeds and grasses under control, and I like to think it has contributed to some of the really awesome harvests we get from our rather small gardens.9. Oh, plant shields and guards
as found in the Cub-144 Cultivator Manual
, are extremely useful and actually do protect the young plants. Don't ask how I know this okay
Been there with my Better Half, don't wanna go there again. k 10. Have fun, get seat time, play.
One thing I have learned over the last few years is no matter how old we are, playing is good for the head, the heart and the soul. In a Cubbers case, it is usually good for the cold room, the freezer and the larder as well! Fresh veggies and fruits are always a treat and much better for you that what is available at the supermarket. Cheaper too in the long run.
Enjoy your harvest...