Starting a Garden – Soil Cultivation and Gardening Ideas
Starting A Garden
It may well be that your garden is already laid out, and no major re-organisation is necessary, but if you are starting a garden that is totally new, the following points may be considered.
Garden Planning and Laying Out
1. Lawns. It is usual to have the lawn in front of the house, with flowers around it and, possibly, depending on the size, flower beds of varying shapes within the lawn. Often one can plan for another grass area behind the house, especially if children are being considered. Grass seed for areas of the latter type can be less expensive than for the main lawn and the mixture for harder wear, may contain some . Try to avoid too small a patch of lawn. It is best to economise on the borders rather than the grass area. Narrow flower borders go well with a lawn, but grow subjects of suitable height to match the width.
2. The herbaceous border may be large or small, but avoid crowding plants together if space is limited. If only a small narrow border can be planned for, use the dwarfer growing plants. Try to choose a position where the plants will be seen to the best advantage. If a grass verge is possible, the front edge need not be straight; curves give the impression of a greater sweep of colour.
3. When starting a garden, flower beds should, if possible be so arranged that they can be seen from the house. Often, other people get the best view of a display!
4. Avoid too many small flower beds, as these mean more work in trimming edges and general maintenance. One bold display is better than several small beds in most cases.
5. Plan to have an extra area where flowers can be grown for cutting only. This means that the herbaceous border, grown for decoration, does not get “robbed” unduly by cutting blooms for indoor display.
6. An area will also be needed for keeping some plants in reserve, for propagation,or growing plants on, and to lay in bulbs and other plants temporarily. Such an area may well be in use for most of the year, for one or other of these purposes.
Some Soil Cultivations
Digging – In addition to a spade, a broad tined fork is useful for this work on heavy. Never dig a heavy clay soil when it is wet, or it will “set” and be very hard to break down. There is little point in digging a light soil in early winter, as the rain will only leach much of the away, but a heavy soil should be dug as early as possible in autumn (delaying application until spring) so as to obtain the maximum weathering effect from wind, rain, frost and snow.
If you have much digging to do, tackle only a little at a time to avoid the job becoming too laborious. Digging in short spells, say 15 minutes, and going on to another job for 10 minutes is a useful practice. When digging use the full depth of the spade or fork. Leave the surface as rough as possible when digging in autumn or winter, this being especially applicable on a newly cultivated area, where soil is very heavy.
Forking – If the soil between establishedis being forked over, use a fork with short tines as this makes the job much easier where many roots come near to the surface.
Hoeing – For working between narrow rows of smalla short handled “onion” hoe is best, as this allows for close manipulation. It is also useful for hoeing between young flower plants as in a flower bed, or between bedding plants not long planted.
Where you have more room to work, choose a long handled hoe, either of the Dutch type, which you walk backwards to use, or the Draw hoe, which you walk forwards to utilise. In either case, keep the blade of the hoe sharp, filing it occasionally to keep a good “edge”, as this makes for much easier work.
As a basic principle, remember that if hoeing is done before anyshow, little weed growth will develop. Soil disturbance kills many germinating weed seeds below surface level.
Soil Cultivation for Sowing or Planting
When preparing a flower bed for planting or sowing, the forking in of a layer of compost will considerably improve both texture and workability. To obtain the final tilth, for sowing especially, use a wooden rake first, then an iron rake. In working down a heavy soil, try to “catch” the lumps after a shower of rain, or if water can be applied use this to soften them. A light roller is a good piece of equipment at this stage, otherwise, in the early stages of cultivation on a heavy soil, the surface may have to be worked down by beating it with the back of a spade, to break the lumps.
One of the most useful tools for the flower garden, is a 3 or 5-prong hand cultivator. This is used for breaking down soil to be sown or planted, or for inter-row cultivation, or for stirring the soil between growing plants. Regular use of this tool prevents the soil from cracking and thus helps to retain moisture.
The easiest method of using this tool is to draw it toward one, whilst walking backwards slowly. Avoid using a cultivator too close to growing plants or damage will be caused to the roots and the plants will be loosened.