I like to think of Spring as the time when we nourish our garden each year. After allowing the garden to rest during the coldest winter months we begin the process of garden rejuvenation in late February. Our dream would be to have the garden cleared and a cover crop in place by early November. However, due to our hectic retail show schedule and labor demands of our bath and beauty line during the fourth quarter this rarely happens.
After garden debris is completely cleared, we carefully remove the landscape fabric stakes from the soil and roll the labeled row covers back for storage. The landscape fabric that we use is made by Dewitt-Sunbelt and has a life off approximately 3 years. If you are growing large scale and have a heavy weed load using a ground cover or landscape fabric is recommended in order to lessen the numerous labor hours of weeding.
We use precut metal templates as a guide to efficiently burn the landscape cloth with a propane torch. Flowers are planted in 9”, 12” or 18” spacing patterns. Our flower garden is divided into 4 zones and 32 different planting rows that are 4 feet wide and 72 feet long. Each row has a two-foot walking path on either side for easy harvesting. Rows are numbered and planted based on days to harvest and plant spacing.
Once the landscape fabric is lifted, the irrigation drip lines must be tested for leaks that may have developed during the growing season. In some cases, a leak can be cut and repaired using connectors. If an irrigation line has more than 3 leaks it is removed and new one is installed. Each row has between 3-5 drip lines. Multiply this time 32 rows and you have quite a bit of irrigation to test.
The next step is to spread the compost that we have collected over the year throughout the garden. This is the nourishing part of the garden preparation process. Our compost in consists of our sheep and chicken manure and vegetation collected during the previous year. Once the compost is spread, we use a tractor to till and turn the soil and compost.
We are now ready to prepare the garden for the next season; attach drip tape to main water lines and test, lay landscape fabric and secure with stakes, plant plugs or seeds (don’t forget to water), reinsert fiberglass poles, stretch and secure Hortonova netting.
Now its time to wait, water and watch the beauty of the garden develop.Our goal is to complete the garden prepping process and to be fully planted no later than April 15, which is the average last frost date for our planting zone, 7a. If you decide to implement a similar growing process the first year is always the most challenging. The garden planning design followed by the burning of the landscape fabric seems to be never-ending. However, the planning and implementation of both elements is essential and will result in a more successful garden growing season.