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Winter Garden Bed Preparation

Updated on January 26, 2017

Getting Your Garden Bed Ready For Spring Vegetable Planting

It's not unknown for my vegetable garden to be somewhat of a jungle in Winter, because the weeding doesn't get done. Grass and weeds take over with a vengeance, so a lot of work needs to be done to prepare the beds for seeds and seedlings. It's best to work at preparation during Winter, as it's a time when not much grows, especially if you live in a frosty area.

I was going to put up a picture of the weeds and grass which had taken over my veggie patch, but it would be too embarrassing to show you the size of the thistles and other things which grew there. The made an ideal hiding place for slug and snails though, which is another reason for getting down to work on this area. Slugs and snails are definitely not welcome in anyone's vegetable patches or gardens.

Unless otherwise noted, all images are my own.

The First Step - Removing Weeds

Remove weeds.
Remove weeds. | Source

The first thing to do in garden bed preparation is to remove all the weeds. Sounds easy, but when the section is as overgrown as this was, it's no easy task. Paspalum and couch grass, not to mention thistles, just do not want to go.

When you start work on the garden, dig down at least a foot, more if possible. Some types of grass can go down quite a long way to get under fences and edgings. At this stage, it's also a good idea to remove any stones you come across. Removed stones can be used in the bottom of plant pots, so they can be useful.

After a lot of hard work, the soil was heaped up and the ground was almost weed free. Did I mention that the weeds and grass kept growing? I swear they came up as soon as we finished work and turned to walk away.

Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Square Garden Spade
Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Square Garden Spade

Get yourself a good quality spade, and make digging a little easier.

 
Clean soil heap.
Clean soil heap. | Source

Ready For Planting

Our soil is not that great, as it is just a very thin layer of topsoil over clay. We grew potatoes in this area in the past, to help break up the clay, but more needs to be done. Gypsum is helpful, and a good fertilizer is a must. We prefer the organic variety, and make our own compost. Growing green mulch in the bed is another option, but so far, we haven't used it.

The bed in the photo above has been dug, and forked over to break up the clay, and is now ready for planting. We'll add some compost and mulch when we're ready to plant, along with a little fertiliser to help the seeds and seedlings along.

It's a good idea never to plant the same variety of vegetable in a patch two years running. Having three or more beds which you can rotate is better.

Potatoes make a good first crop in a new vegetable patch, as they are ideal to break up the soil. Make sure you remove all the potatoes before replanting with other vegetable, as they can be quite invasive in the future.

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Radius Garden 203 PRO Ergonomic Stainless Steel Digging Fork
Radius Garden 203 PRO Ergonomic Stainless Steel Digging Fork

Once you've dug your garden, you'll need a good fork to break up the soil.

 
Seedlings coming up.
Seedlings coming up. | Source

Finally, The Seedlings

Although we still had a couple of small areas to dig over, most of the vegetable patch was planted in time for Spring, and we are looking forward to reaping the results.

So far, we've had spinach, potatoes, peas, broad beans, and lettuce from the garden, and the recently moved strawberries are flowering happily. The tomatoes are flowering, and it looks as if we will have a good crop from them also.

The seedlings at the back of the photo are green beans, and the three at the front are pumpkins. The seeds in the middle hadn't come up when this photo was taken. The little green dots near the seedlings are snail bait, but it's a little hard to make out. Snails grow almost as fast as the weeds do.

Sometimes, instead of planting the seeds in separate areas, we mix them and spread them over a whole section. This helps protect them from pests, as the scent and appearance of the plants is disguised.,

The End Results - Some of the vegetables we've enjoyed in the past.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
At the back are the green beans, and to the right there are some spinach plants, going to seed.   There are also some mustard greens.The tomatoes went feral, so they had to be trimmed back a bit.The peas did very well, and we got a good crop, and I was able to freeze some for later.We moved the rhubarb, and it seems to appreciate its new home, where it has more space.
At the back are the green beans, and to the right there are some spinach plants, going to seed.   There are also some mustard greens.
At the back are the green beans, and to the right there are some spinach plants, going to seed. There are also some mustard greens. | Source
The tomatoes went feral, so they had to be trimmed back a bit.
The tomatoes went feral, so they had to be trimmed back a bit. | Source
The peas did very well, and we got a good crop, and I was able to freeze some for later.
The peas did very well, and we got a good crop, and I was able to freeze some for later. | Source
We moved the rhubarb, and it seems to appreciate its new home, where it has more space.
We moved the rhubarb, and it seems to appreciate its new home, where it has more space. | Source

Freeze Your Excess Vegetables & Fruit

Some years, we have much better crops than others because of rainfall and heat differences. When we have a lot of vegetables and fruit, we freeze some of it, or preserve it. On occasions, we've even made wine with some fruit. It's a good way of saving money. We really recommend that if you have even a small garden, you prepare it for the next season, and enjoy some home-grown food!

Your Gardening Tips & Comments

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    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 23 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      I'm afraid my weeding is a little behind at the moment - the weather has been too hot to get out there. Perhaps I should go out before breakfast when it's still a little cool......

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

      With unseasonably warm temperatures, you provide inspiration to get out there and weed and do what was supposed to have been done long before.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @Adventuretravels: It's easy here, as we don't have squirrels in Australia! :-) Can't help you with that one, sorry. I do have to protect my fruit trees from the birds and bats though.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      I wish I had your expertise! You should see the state of my garden - although last year we had some super runner beans -they ran and ran and ran -delicious. PS how do you stop squirrels eating everything?

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      I really should try growing my own.

    • profile image

      dudexyx 3 years ago

      ah I will grow tomatoes in this summer!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 3 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi I like your garden, it look good. I know it a pain to weed a garden, and I am not looking forward to weeding mine for spring planting.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @RoadMonkey: Raised garden beds are great and I'm thinking of getting some one day soon.

    • Babu Mohan profile image

      Mohan Babu 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      I like it that you make your own organic garden compost.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 years ago

      We used to have a vegetable bed but more recently grassed it over. I am thinking about moving into container gardening as we get older.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      I want to get my hands dirty now! If you saw my garden right now, you would cry. It is covered with a thick layer of SNOW! The only good thing about that is, you can't see the weeds!

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 3 years ago from Connecticut

      It's fun to follow the transformation from weeds to carefully prepared garden soil, then from seedlings to fully grown plants.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 3 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I'm looking forward to spring!!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      It looks like you have a very nice garden, and I see that it took a lot of work. We plant ever season at my daughters house. Last season we cannded tomotoes a peppers.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 3 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Love your veggie garden. I started several but as I'm very bad at keeping the weeds out, I stopped. Besides, we have hobby gardeners and farmers as neighbours, so there's no need to grow my own veggies, onions or potatoes.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      I sahred those in a lens I did last year titled '1 Essential Pair of Garden Tools with Gardening Tips' https://hubpages.com/living/1-essential-pair-of-ga...

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these useful gardening tips, I hope you will have a good crop this year :)