Gardening is a tradition in many families. It’s a great way to save money on groceries, generate a little extra income, provide precious family time, and teach children the value of hard work and dedication. Few experiences are quite as satisfying as grilling vegetables or making meals with the food you grew in your very own backyard. Whether it’s corn on the cob, a fresh garden salad, or sauteed onions, knowing exactly where your produce came can be so rewarding.

A successful garden starts from the ground up–literally. If your soil is no good, your garden will not produce well. Whether you’re gardening for pleasure or to save a few bucks, there’s a few things you need to know before you buy your seeds.

Plan Ahead

Have an idea of what you want to plant. Different vegetables require you to plant at different times in the year or till your soil at a certain depth. Check a planting calendar so you know when to start prepping your garden.

You’ll also want to check the frost dates for your area. Frost can kill seedlings and plants, destroying all your hard work.

You may even want to go ahead and buy your seeds. Check out your local C-A-L Ranch for great prices on seed packets.

Compost

Many gardeners will add compost to their soil in the late fall so it has longer to decompose. However, if you didn’t do that, you’ll still want to add compost before you till. If you think you have poor soil nutrition, you’ll want to layer anywhere from 4-6 inches of compost over your soil. If your soil has good nutrition, you can get away with 2-3 inches. If your dirt is particularly compacted, you may want to dig 6-12 inches, lay compost, and then dig again. This article gives you a little more detail about when to lay your compost.

oakdellThere’s tons of different composts to choose from. Oakdell Egg Farms has an organic
compost that is chemical free and fresh-smelling. This compost is ideal for vegetable gardens, flower beds, potted plants, and even lawn fertilizer. It also reduces the need for chemical fertilizer and helps your soil retain moisture, which can save you money in the long run. C-A-L Ranch carries this in their stores, or you can order it online.

Tilling

You’re going to want to dig up or till your soil (make sure to call before you dig). This will loosen the dirt so that your seedlings’ roots have room to spread. Don’t dig if the soil is still frozen or too wet. Soil should be around 60 degrees Fahrenheit before you dig. To make sure your soil is dry enough, take a handful of it in your hand and squeeze. If it falls apart in your hand, you’re good to go!

Depending on what you want to plant, you’ll want to dig 6-12 inches. Root crops like potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. will need closer to 12 inches, but above-ground plants like tomatoes only need 6-8.

For more information on tilling, check out this article.

Supplies

Before you plant make sure you have all the necessary gardening tools.

You can find all of these items and more at your local C-A-L Ranch or online at www.calranch.com.

Pesticides

As your plants grow, pay attention to little critters that might be infiltrating your garden. Pesticides can help protect your plants from these harmful pests.

One great pesticide is Pro-Terra’s DEsect HG for Home & Garden. It’s an organic pesticide desecthgalternative made specifically for use in your home and/or garden. Made from natural diatomaceous earth (DE), this insecticide is free of chemical additives and destroys insect’s protective waxy cuticle layer so that they dehydrate and die rapidly.

Click here to view a product description, but you’ll want to order from C-A-L Ranch and save some money. Visit our Coupons & Rebates page to get $1 off any regularly-priced ProTerra DEsect Diatomaceous Earth Insecticide, good thru December 1, 2016.

Once you’ve gathered the necessary supplies and prepped your soil, you’re ready to start planting! Check back here in the future for more gardening tips and ideas.

Happy planting!

Gardening tools and flowers on the terrace