the shoot of a cucumber
Edible Gardening,  Food For Better Health

Let’s Get This Garden Started!

Spring Gardening/JoAnn's Food BitesGrowing up in suburban Georgia, with parents whose childhood immediately followed the Great Depression, there was always a vegetable garden.

Whether it was at my maternal grandparents, who mainly planted a few vegetables and all types of beans – to – my paternal grandparents, who grew everything under the sun – to my parents’ corn and bean garden..

I worked in a garden from my grammar school years until I was old enough to drive – and I drove AWAY from gardening!

Far, far away…I swore off gardening FOREVER!

I was sick of it!   

Okra pricking my fingers; shelling butter beans until my thumbs were blistered; stringing green beans so much, that I still do not like them; shucking corn, covering myself in silk; and then the canning process made my grandmother’s kitchen so hot, I thought I would pass out!

Funny how time changes everything!

Since college, I have lived in various apartments. When I finally got married, our property was not very conducive for attempting a garden. We had a few plants but nothing to write home about.

But NOW….we are in our dream home with plenty of room.  And of course, being older, I am much more health conscious, which means I care where our food comes from…so, WE HAVE A GARDEN!

Rear tinned tiller/JoAnn's Food Bites
Rear tine tillers have wheels that are driven by the engine, which means that the tines work independently of the wheels. These are useful for tilling new or extremely tough ground.

Besides eating delicious fresh vegetables and herbs having your own garden provides great exercise.  The sense of pride and satisfaction after your first harvest is immeasurable.

So, I knew I was going to have a lot of hard work ahead of me.  Our soil is not as bad as Georgia red clay, but it still contains mainly clay, with a sandy loom mixed in.  Soil amendment was going to be a necessity.

My husband used his rear tine tiller to cultivate the soil.  I used the tiller for about half the garden and was wore out.  I let him finish.  He added about a dozen bags of organic soil conditioner, which is ground wood and bark.

Once the soil amendment was tilled in; the plot was raked and leveled.  Next, we constructed our planting rows.

Tip: Do NOT walk on the soil you just tilled. It will compact the soil and defeat the entire purpose of tilling the garden.  

I have never actually planted an entire garden before. 

During childhood, my presence was requested during harvest. 

My husband, on the other hand, grew up helping his father plant their garden, so he knew exactly what needed to be done.

For your first row, you will use a hard rake or a hoe and pull dirt towards you, forming a mound.  You only need to go 5 to 8-inches deep.  Continue to move across your plot, to form a row.

Now, mark where the second walk path will go. 

I wanted wider pathways, so I marked my next row 4 feet from the valley I just created.

Use a measuring tape to find 48″ from the dirt you just moved.

Hammer landscaping spikes,  at the edge of the garden at the 48″ mark. 

Extend string between the two landscaping spikes, one on each side of your garden. 

Now, you have a line across the garden, to which you know the next walk path will form.

***REMEMBER: do not walk on your fluffy, freshly tilled soil!

Stand facing the row you just formed, with the bed of the garden in front of you.

Using your hoe or rake, pull dirt from near your string marker, towards you.

The dirt will be piled on top of the mound you already formed. 

Again, only go to a depth of 5 to 8-inches.  T

This should form a mounded row of dirt approximately 12-inches tall.

Next, move your string marker down another 48″ or whatever width you desire.

Stand in the valley you just moved dirt from and reaching towards your string marker, pull 5 to 8-inches worth of dirt halfway towards you. 

This mound will be your next plant row.

Make a smooth, flat surface on each mound by using the back of your rake and lightly moving across each mound of dirt.  The flat surface should be approximately 8 to 10-inches across.


Repeat until you have formed all the rows you want for your garden.

Spring Gardening Plot/JoAnn's Food Bites


Planting the Vegetables in the Garden

Plants love fluffy soil – hence why we did NOT walk on our tilled soil and formed mounds to plant.

Our first two rows are green onions sets.

Next is a row of leek seeds.

With the corner of a hoe, form a 1″ trough across the row. 

Drop a single seed in the trough, approximately 3″ apart.  Use your hand to cover the seed with dirt.

Also in the garden are eggplant, various bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet banana peppers, zucchini, crooked neck squash, cucumbers and watermelon.

Watermelon mounds JoAnn's Food Bites Vegetable Garden

Immediate Care for Vegetable Garden

Because it was a very hot day, we watered the garden immediately.  Typically, first thing in the morning is the ideal time to water.

Thrive tomato foodFor the eggplant and tomatoes, I mixed up some Thrive, according to package directions and used a watering can, to avoid getting water on the plant leaves and preventing our fluffy dirt from washing away.

All other vegetables were given a half dose of Miracle Grow plant fertilizer mixed in 1/2 gallon of water, per plant, except for the onion sets and leek seeds. 

Those rows received one gallon dispersed over the entire row.

I will keep you in the loop on how the garden is going and will share some great recipes using our bounty of fresh vegetables.

If I can do this….you can too!

Do you have a summer vegetable garden?  Let me know in the comments!

Related posts:  Braised Halibut with Leeks

Growing Your Own Tomatoes versus Store Bought

Organic Gardening at the Rodale Institute


Give me your thoughts...