February is a great time of the may be grown to provide an edible year to start preparing for an edible garden space. There is nothing better than harvesting fresh vegetables farm to fork. When choosing where to incorporate a garden, you will need to select a sunny location in the yard, ensuring there are no structures or trees to inhibit the sunlight in the afternoon.
If you experience deer coming to visit, you will need to utilize a sturdy type of deer fencing that will prevent foraging. Remesh fence panels may be designed into the fence that will provide trellises to grow climbing vegetables, such as beans or provide support for espalier fruit trees. This type of fencing also allows the light to penetrate through and to view the garden from the exterior landscape. Once you select the space for the garden, you may take measurements to put the area to scale on paper, establishing a concept plan that will include the dimensions of the raised boxes or beds and paths to have access for planting and harvesting. This will create a design to work from to determine what to grow, materials needed and the proper layout that will consider the space each plant will need as it matures throughout the seasons. It is important to provide space for the plants to grow as they mature to have proper air flow to ward off diseases such as powdery mildew.
Soil structure is the foundation of having a successful garden, and organic matter is key. If this is the first year you are attempting an edible garden space, it is a good idea to amend compost into the native soil with a tiller on a dry day to help minimize soil compaction. As the garden progresses you may add additional compost, trying not to till the soil every season asthisdisturbstheestablishedcolony of beneficial organisms. If you plan to have a seasonal garden from spring to fall, you may plant a cover crop for the winter months that will return nutrients to the soil depending on the crops you want to grow. This also helps control erosion during the rainy season. There are many varieties of winter crops that garden to harvest from throughout the year.
If mobility is a concern or you want to contain certain plants such as herbs, raised boxes are an excellent choice. When selecting lumber for raised boxes, Western juniper is well worth the investment. Juniper posts in direct contract with soil were reported to last 30-plus years. OSU has been documenting ongoing studies of this product since 1928. Western juniper comes in smaller lengths and is full dimension in size. It is important to take this into consideration when you are designing the sizes of raised boxes you want to incorporate into the space. Make sure you use 4x4 post or 2x6 in the center as well as the corners to help support the sides. You should not exceed 6 feet on center for the vertical supports. Adding a 2x6 or 2x8 as a cap on the perimeter of the garden box makes a nice seat to be able to cultivate the area and provides a nice detail.
There are many great seed catalogues to peruse in the early stages of planning for a garden that provide an array of seeds to choose from if you think you want to grow your own starts. It may seem a little overwhelming at first since there are so many to choose from. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Territorial Seed Company have impressive catalogues. If you are looking for vegetable starts, there are local nurseries you may purchase from. When the time comes to plant your starts and seeds into the soil, you may add a granular or liquid mycorrhizal inoculum to help the plants absorb soil nutrients that are difficult to uptake. This beneficial fungi will also provide resistance to drought and promote root hyphae to colonize, creating a symbiotic environment within the garden for your edibles to flourish.