Garden beds preparation is one of the essential and most important factors that directly determine the growth, development, and health status of growing plants. Plants need soil conditions for proper anchorage and uptake of nutrients and water contents. Poor soil structure and gardening beds' mismanagement will negatively affect plants' root systems, and plants cannot survive well in these conditions.
Proper preparation of garden beds helps manage watering, insect pests, weeds, nutritional status of soil, and the populations of microorganisms and macro-organisms. Adequate preparation for gardening beds may be difficult for beginners, but the careful and right management can yield fruitful results.
Clearing Remains of Previous Vegetation
Gardeners must focus on removing all remains of previous vegetables, flowers, and weeds. This is an essential approach to reducing the chances of insects' pest attack and development of diseases in the next season crops or plants. The existing weeds can be removed by manual weeding.
Hand weeding involves proper digging of soil and pulling all parts of weeds out from the soil's growing surface. It is necessary to remove all roots and other parts of weeds. Otherwise, these weeds may regrow and consume nutrients and water; thus, other garden plants will suffer from nutritional deficiencies and water shortage.
The use of herbicides is a quick approach to kill and remove the weeds; however, the chemicals may also kill beneficial microbes and other biological life in the soil. Covering the garden soil with a black plastic cover or mulch is also an excellent approach to reducing weeds' emergence and growth. This existing remains of vegetation can be used for composting, but it is necessary to make sure that there is no problem of any disease and fungal attack; otherwise, it can negatively affect the whole garden's health.
A well-managed and properly prepared garden bed is a key to produce healthy, nutritionally rich, and contaminants free food. The healthy growth and development of plants are directly dependent on the soil's physical, biological, and chemical health. It can only be ensured by the right balance between organic matter contents, synthetic fertilizers, tillage, moisture contents, soil structure, and other management practices.
Autumn is the best season for preparing the gardening site in Australia. The selection of management practices and cultural operations depends mainly on the soil type and prevailing climatic conditions. Generally, the soil is broadly classified into three major groups; sandy, loamy, and clayey. Loamy soil is best for gardening and helps provide maximum nutrients and moisture contents according to plants' growing conditions.
If the dominant soil type is sandy or clayey in any area, it can also be significantly improved by adding organic matter and compost. Organic matter includes dead and decaying plant parts, leaves, twigs, fallen fruits, seeds, branches, kitchen scraps, animal manures, pine barks, and sawdust. The addition of organic matter also improves biological health and soil. Micro biota and macro biota activities help release nutrients and regulate the moisture contents in the rhizosphere. Moreover, the addition of organic fertilizers helps to produce nutritional rich and delicious food. Currently, the concept of production and consumption of organic food is growing across the globe due to its multiple health benefits for human beings and the environment. The use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, and weedicides causes the accumulation of chemical residues that, in turn, exerts adverse effects on human health, soil quality, and the environment.
The addition of chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers, and compost should be decided according to the present nutritional status of the soil. Although there are many kinds of soil testing techniques, gardeners should take the sample soil from the garden to any nearby agricultural extension service center or soil testing laboratory and add the recommended dose and sources to the garden beds. Too acidic or alkaline soils can also be significantly improved the application of amendments. The addition of poultry manure and animal manure is a rich source of Nitrogen and helps to assure lush growing vegetables and flowers. The addition of biofertilizers, mycorrhiza helps to improve soil's biological, physical, and chemical conditions. It will provide improved growing conditions for a more extended period.
Moreover, gardening beds can be protected from harsh external conditions by covering it with a plastic sheet or by the addition of dead or alive mulching. Spreading of living mulch or organic matter also helps to add organic matter to the soil and thereby dramatically improves soil fertility and productivity.
Wise and proper preparation and management of garden beds also significantly reduce water use and improve efficiency. Various gardening and bed preparation designs can minimize water loss without affecting growing plants' growth and development. Raised garden beds are beneficial as water infiltration offers maximum water content to the plant roots. In this way, the loss of water as seepage, leaching, and runoff is reduced, so most gardeners use this practice to conserve water on a sustainable basis.
Gardeners should only work in the damp soil, as working with too wet and dry soil is a difficult task and can also damage the spade or shovel. A tiller can be used for turning the soil around 10-15cm. However, turning soil up to 45cm is the best approach to incorporate organic matter contents and assure the pulverized soil structure. This turning over of the soil is exceptionally beneficial to control all the weeds.
Gardeners should focus on performing all management and cultural practices at least two weeks before seed sowing and seedling transplantation in soil. Self-managed planting beds help produce safe, healthy, contaminants free, and nutritious food and save money too. Moreover, lush growing flowers add beauty and fragrance to the environment and significantly improve its value. Furthermore, gardeners can enjoy peace of mind, healthy outdoor activities that will positively affect their mental and physical health.
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