Very often builders are not over-fussy as to how they leave the garden when their work is finished. How many people have moved into a new home to find their gardenhard and compacted and strewn with bricks and other rubble? Also, there may be no topsoil in which to grow plants. It is always tempting to sow and plant immediately, but one must resist the urge to grow food crops until the site has been adequately prepared.
Firstly it should be double-dug to break up the hard soil. At the same time add plenty ofto the trenches to improve drainage or to help retain moisture, depending on the soil type. It is vital at this stage to remove the roots of perennial seeds such as couch, docks, bindweed, dandelions, nettles, ground elder and mare’s tail. As regards the bricks and other rubble, it is always a good idea to remove as much as possible during digging as it can make later cultivations difficult, especially if you use a rotary cultivator. It also can cause the roots of root vegetables to become deformed. A lot of rubble is a nuisance whenever you try to produce a fine seed bed—you end up with a mountain of the stuff after raking. Actually bricks and rubble have no adverse effect on the soil but nevertheless are best removed for the reasons stated. Such material makes a good foundation for paths and patios. If you really do not wish to remove it all, then bury it as deeply as possible during digging.
Now to the question of topsoil. If your new garden lacks this it will be essential to buy some in. It is generally possible to find a supplier advertising in local papers. Before you buy, inspect the soil, for you do not want a load of rubbish dumped on your site. If possible try to obtain a medium to light loam, then you will be able to grow any crop you wish. You really need at least 30 cm (12”) depth of topsoil in which toand fruit. Even if the rest of the garden has to make do with less, try to ensure your food-crop patch has the required depth.
If perennialare a serious problem then you should lay the site fallow for one growing season after digging and certainly before adding topsoil. This will give you a chance to spray the weeds with a suitable weed killer or dig them out as they re-emerge through the soil. On a badly infested patch it is impossible to remove every scrap of root during digging, and therefore you are sure to get re-growth. Try, if possible, to get the site ready for spring sowing and planting. This will mean initial cultivations in the previous spring or summer.
With a new garden one should be able to select the best possible place to grow vegetables and fruit. Do not automatically site it at the end of the plot as so many people do—this may not necessarily be the best position. Wherever the food plot is, it can generally be screened from the ornamental garden in some way, perhaps with hedges or trellis, so choose a spot that is well drained, as level as possible, open and sunny, yet not exposed to winds. Very often on modern housing estates there are ‘wind tunnels’, especially between houses, where the wind often rushes through with great force. Obviously, try to avoid such a situation when siting your food plot.