What I do to prepare a garden

Published 12:06 pm Monday, April 14, 2014

By Tom Theesfeld

As spring approaches, thoughts begin to enter my mind of nice, red, juicy tomatoes, great-tasting cucumbers and all the other vegetables I will ask my garden to produce for me.

Need advice on your garden?  Tom Theesfeld is the guy to see. – Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Need advice on your garden?
Tom Theesfeld is the guy to see. – Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

So how will I get my garden ready to give it the best chance to produce those great vegetables for me? Well, if the weather permits me the time to do exactly what I want to do, I start by cleaning up any debris that I do not want to till under. This would include sticks, rocks and nonorganic material such as plastic bags and other garbage that may have blown into the garden over the winter.

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Then I’ll check to see if the soil is dry enough. A good test is to grab a handful of soil. If I can make a ball, it is too wet. It should fall apart. Once it is dry enough, I give the garden a good tilling to get a nice loose soil and break up all the hard clumps. Then I’ll decide what soil amendments to add. Some options are manure, compost, any other organic material or a synthetic fertilizer such as 10-10-10.

I’ll spread one or more of these items on top of my garden space. Then I’ll step back and plan where to plant each of the vegetables I have in mind. After that I will till in the soil amendments making sure I till deeper in the areas I am going to plant things that will be deeper such as potatoes. That way the fertilizer is down where the vegetable can use it right away and produce the quality crop I am looking for.

Now the garden is ready to be planted. Some people let it set for a week or 10 days to see what weeds come up right away and get rid of them before planting. This may not be practical if the only time you have to plant is right away, which tends to be the way it works for me. After planting, all that is left to do is sit back and wait for that great-tasting produce.

Oh, yeah, and weeding and watering, but that is what children and grandchildren are for, right? OK, maybe not, but you can’t blame me for trying.  Happy gardening!


Tom Theesfeld is the garden center manager at the Albert Lea Seed House.