Permaculture Gardening – How to Prepare Garden Beds after Harvest and before Planting
It is definitely worth it to give your garden some love. The garden will love you back and the gifts you receive are priceless. I personally think that naturally homegrown food is one of the most valuable things which lead to a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Our food forest is nearly six years old and needs only a little attention. However, there are always some jobs to do in the annual garden, which is zone one and zone two at our place. Taking care of the garden beds will ensure ongoing success in terms of growing food. Healthy soil means strong and healthy plants and definitely less trouble. Healthy plants can defend themselves much better in case of a disease or predators so giving them a good start is crucial!
It is beneficial for the soil to take care of the garden beds straight after the harvest. In saying that, I always aim to plant new seedlings or sow new veggies straight after. The entire soil networking system, with all its physical, biological, and chemical processes, needs plants to stay healthy so it is always good to grow “something” rather than nothing. Our subtropical climate allows us to grow veggies all year round so this works well.
First of all, after the harvest, I remove any unwanted “weeds” which might have found their way into the growing beds. Then, I always aerate the garden beds with the fork by simply sticking the fork into the soil, moving slightly forward and back without turning the soil. Aerating the soil is very important and it takes only a couple of minutes. Now, depending on what I am planning to grow there as next, I do the following:
- for the heavy feeders like pumpkin, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, and so on: I dig a trench or two in the garden bed, depending on the width of the bed, fill the trenches halfway with aged chicken manure and straw or hey which also comes from the chicken coops, and wood ash (these all are sitting in a large plastic pot with a lid, mixed with some water to keep it moist, for at least three months and longer). You can replace it with any aged manure or blood and bone pellets like the dynamic lifter. I cover the trenches back with the soil, add a thin layer of mulch on top and the garden bed is ready. Don’t forget about watering during all the prep steps!
- for the light feeders like garlic, onion, shallots, carrots, parsnip, leeks, and potatoes, I usually just spread some worm casting on top or “scratch it in slightly” with a three fingers fork, and cover it with mulch
- for the heavy givers like beans, peas peanuts and so on, I normally only apply a nice layer of mulch, about 3-5cm thick and that is all
Don’t forget to water the garden beds during your prep work. I also like to mention the crop rotation at this point. This is an additional measure, not a replacement, to the jobs I just described above, to help maintain healthy soil.
When the garden is well designed, it will provide you with lots of joy, heavy crops, and little work which is nothing to compare to what you get back from it. Happy gardening!
Do you need any help in designing your edible garden, planning what to grow when, and how? You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am more than happy to help. Any questions? Just leave a comment below.