Help! Need Garden Advice

Megan Venturella
Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

My amazing husband has graciously agreed to till an area of maybe 25 by 100 feet tomorrow. I already have a vegetable garden in another area, but I’d like to plant potatoes, corn, squash, and beans in the new area. The potatoes need to go in right away and will presumably take 3 to 4 months to mature. The corn, beans, and squash should go in in the beginning of May. So I guess I can’t plant the whole thing in potatoes because they won’t be finished in time. Am I right? So I thought I’d plant some of it in potatoes. I don’t want the rest of the ground to be left bare, so what can I direct sow that will be ready to come out by May?

I also plan to add some of Steve Solomon’s complete organic fertilizer. I’ve only gardened in raised beds with compost in the past. Open to all ideas and suggestions, please!! The goal is to finally grow some serious calories. Thank you!


  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Megan Venturella have you thought about a ground cover that can later be used as feed for your animals? I know that a lot of greens and radishes would grow in that time frame and some varieties of brassicas mature in around 50 days.

    Are you planning on using the 3 sister's method for the corn, beans, and squash?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @Megan Venturella What zone are you in?

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You can also plant Cover Crops such as Fava beans or Red Clover.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D I didn’t think of the three sisters! I’ll look into that. Maybe I’ll do small stands of corn that way instead of rows.

    @torey I’m in zone 8.

    The clay was very hard, so the grass is torn Up but not very deep at all. And of course it started pouring rain and will be for days- so this will be interesting.

    COWLOVINGIRL Posts: 954 ✭✭✭✭

    I was thinking peas, but depending on what your last frost date is, it might still be too early for peas. Cover crops sound good, you could also think about just covering the soil with mulch. That will help with the weeds and it will also improve your soil. Or, if you have chickens you could do what Justin Rhodes does and put the chickens on the ground that you want to turn into garden space and they will do some light tilling and they will also fertilize as well as make it so no weeds grow.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    @COWLOVINGIRL I love the idea of running chickens across it! I think I’d need to build something new, but I really love the idea. I probably can’t get to it this spring, but maybe in the future.

    It’s a huge area, and such hard clay! I need to stop watching gardening videos. People make things look so easy, and this is going to take an army.

    COWLOVINGIRL Posts: 954 ✭✭✭✭

    We have clay too! It definitely takes some doing to make it gardenable.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Megan Venturella Do you have comfrey? It helps break up soil and makes a great compost tea. I can spread but don't let it flower. I let mince flower because I like all the comfrey I can get.

    Any deep root crop will help break up soil.

    I also have clay with an equal amount of rock. A clay base soil is full of nutrients once you get it broken down

    I would mulch the garden while growing crops and work that in in the fall along with a little more of some sort of compost material. That will help your soil break down fast.

    I love chickens for working a garden bed before planting. They do such a nice job. Yiu might look at a chicken tractor type set up and move them each day or two to help your garden areas. They have expensive one to but or make but you can make one for $100 easily. My last once cost me 35 dollars.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    You could start some potatoes in a big pot (it would also make it easier to harvest them)? I am currently doing this with purple sweet potatoes in a greenhouse.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Potatoes re much easier to harvest in a container. Its a shortcut I use not to dig root crops. I love gardening but do not like to dig root crops. I usually grow carrots in pots too. I have beter control of ther soil (no rocks), less rabbit issues and can cover for white flies

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2022
  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Buckwheat makes a good green mulch, and it's edible too. When you are ready to plant something else, pull all the buckwheat that patch, turn it under, and plant the new plants. If you don't pull it, it will reseed itself, which may or may not be what you want.

    Potatoes are available in early, middle, or late season varieties. If you want to use the space for something else, you could plant early potatoes and harvest in midsummer.

    Peas are also an option. Once it gets hot, they will stop producing, so you could pull them and compost or turn them under. Then plant something else that can grow quickly and produce in the hot weather. You may need to start the "something else" inside so that when you pull the peas you are transplanting live plants that already have a head start. Putting seeds in may be too slow.

    You might be able to get two pea crops, spring and fall. If you try that, put the peas in early, while it's still hot. I've found it takes a surprisingly long time for them to produce peas in fall.

    Finally, green leafy plants such as lettuce, spinach, claytonia, and mustard will grow quickly in the cool of spring and give you time to plant something else there when summer comes. Again, you should probably start the "something else" and transplant it.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    So... just thought I’d mention for the record that the hand tiller didn’t go deep enough to do much in the clay. If we ever do it again we’ll use something you actually drive, because it just isn’t tulles deeply enough. Not only that, but the rain started the next day and the whole area is one big mud pie. We put two back-breaking rows of potatoes in, but the clay is so heavy we only got about 3 inches to cover the potatoes. So now I’m wheelbarrowing the m cow patties and hay from the field to at least bury the potatoes enough. If I’d known I’d be doing all that work I think I might have gone ahead and just laid down cardboard and done no till. It’s funny, everyone makes tilling look so easy, but clearly there’s much more of an art to this than I realized!