Spring Bed Prep is Underway

Demonstration beds are usually covered with black plastic tarps for at least two weeks prior to planting. This warms the soil, dries it, and kills small weeds to create a clean, dry seedbed. 

All the beds located within the demonstration garden have been tilled when the garden was built. We have since been practicing no tillage/low tillage practice in the demonstration garden. This preserves soil structure as well as the essential microbial life and earthworms within the soil. 

Each raised bed may need to be slightly re-shaped or built up each year with soil that has collected in the aisles. Adding compost and organic matter to the beds will also continue to raise the beds, build fertility and better the structure of the soil. We will, however, use a fork/broadfork to loosen and aerate the soil so that more oxygen is introduced into the beds and also to allow roots to easily penetrate the soil. 

From a production perspective, the primary reason to use “No-Till” methods is to reduce weed pressure on your crop. Every time your soil is disturbed, weed seeds germinate to grow and protect the bare soil. Nature abhors bare soil and will do everything in its power to get weeds up to protect that bare soil as fast as possible. With no-till, we’re tricking nature into thinking all is well on the top layer and there is no need to send up weed sprouts for cover. On a very practical level, by not tilling and turning over the soil, we are keeping the weeds seeds below the surface and keeping them from germinating.

After forking the soil, add any soil amendments necessary for the garden, depending on results of soil testing or previous gauge of fertility. We use organic compost and either a balanced organic fertilizer or a nitrogen-based fertilizer. Now it’s time to rake or stirrup hoe the fertilizer and compost into the beds and prepare them for planting. Using a landscaping rake, go over each bed and make it perfectly smooth, removing debris and rocks. Your goal is to have a flat and smooth surface to plant on.