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Off The Grid Garden Checklist for 2012

While your garden is sleeping, it is preparing the foundation upon which your plants will be grown. However, there are still a few things you will need to do to help your garden along. Here is a list of chores that have to be completed while you wait for spring. I have them divided by month, but not necessarily in order of importance. Depending on your garden, you may not need or be able to do everything. So do what you are able, enjoy the preparation, relax, and bask in the promise of the coming spring.


New Survival Seed Bank™ Let’s You Plant A Full Acre Crisis Garden! [5]


April and May

Starting Seeds Indoors

(Supplies needed: good planting medium, containers, good quality seeds, sunlight, and moisture.)

Puzzled by pruning? Baffled by bulbs? Can’t tell a hosta from a hyacinth? Don’t worry! [6]

Prepare Beds

If you fertilized and covered beds with mulch last fall, they won’t need much come planting time. Just loosen the soil with a fork or claw to prepare for planting. If you don’t have prepared beds, you may want to build some frames and fill them with good quality soil. A good size for beds will depend on your height and arm length. A taller person can reach across a four-foot square, while someone shorter can read across a three-foot square bed. This type of bed is easily covered with plastic in bad weather. (A mini greenhouse can even be built with chicken wire and heavy-duty plastic.) Tall plants can be covered with gallon milk jugs that have had their bottoms removed for protection from the weather. Have lots of mulch to put around plants to keep them safe from any late frosts.

If beds have not been prepared, it isn’t too late. Till soil twelve inches deep and mix in enough compost to bring the depth to eighteen inches. If it is too cold for planting, mulch well. If the winter is dry, water the bed once weekly to ensure a good harvest.

Making a Hotbed

A hotbed is raised bed built of two basic layers— a hot layer and a growing layer.  The hot layer is the heat source for the bed. It contains a thick layer of manure and new compost. Start with a six-inch thick layer of straw. Add six to eight inches of manure and new compost, packing it down as you add. Lay in a layer of soil mixed with well-broken down compost for a growing layer. As the manure and compost break down below, they keep the bed warm for the young plants during the late winter and early spring. When the bed no longer gives off heat, you can use the bed for melons or other plants that require lots of fertilizer.

Preparing the Soil

The best blanket you can lay on your garden beds is the compost from your decaying piles. The next best is the molds growing in the leaves accumulated in your yard (but not oak leaves – they decay too slowly). These build your soil, adding good bacteria to it. They are best added in fall, but if you have left your compost and leaf piles to winter over, now is the time to put them to use; till them in, mixing well. Getting a package of nematodes from a garden supply may also add much-needed microbes to your beds. And you may need to make a visit to a bait shop or sporting goods store to pick up some worms. Raised beds don’t have these lively aerators in them unless you add them. For a bed that is four feet by eight feet, a single container is plenty. Larger beds will take more and smaller beds will need less.

By carefully planning and preparing your garden, you can lengthen its growing season and provide fresh, organic vegetables for your table practically year-round. Happy planning!

©2012 Off the Grid News