Tiller Time, Digging Trenches, & Potato Tips
For Day One of planting our new garden, it was time to plant the potatoes, onions, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Rainbow Blend Carrots, Easter Egg Radishes, Cherry Belle Radishes, Red & Golden Beets, and the KCCG 30th Anniversary Blend Lettuce.
However, first things first…we needed to till our garden area.
Our area was overrun by clovers and grass so we bought an electric tiller by Greenworks for around $200. It doesn’t provide the same power as a gas-powered tiller but it got the job done after going over the same stretch a few times. If you don’t want to spend money on a tiller, you can rent tillers from most home improvement stores.
We have a lot of tilling to be done and decided to bite the bullet and buy our own so we didn’t have to feel we had to get it done in a 3 or 4 hour window. The trick to tilling is making sure the soil is dry enough to till. You do not want to till muddy soil. If you till soil that is too wet, you create boulders in your garden and will ruin your soil.
To figure out if your soil is dry enough, do the “Chocolate Cake Test”. Have your kids scoop up a handful of your soil in their hands. If it sticks together like a lump of clay, your soil is too wet to till. If your soil crumbles like a piece of chocolate cake then you can till.
My son and gardening partner, Eli, is only 6 years old so he is too young to run the tiller so in order to include him in the process, I had him rake the tilled weeds away while I did the tilling.
It wasn’t hard to convince Eli to dig trenches for the seeds.
One of his favorite things to do is digging holes in the backyard with his toy construction trucks so he was more than willing to grab a hand shovel and a spade to help out with the trenches.
For the potatoes, we dug a trenches about 6 inches deep and for the onions, we dug trenches about one inch deep.
For the Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Rainbow Blend Carrots, Easter Egg Radishes, Cherry Belle Radishes, Red & Golden Beets, and the KCCG 30th Anniversary Blend Lettuce, we dug trenches ranging from a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch.
Quick Potato Tips
If you plan on growing potatoes, you should cut up your potatoes in halves or thirds so that each wedge has 2-3 sprouts. Let them dry for at least one day before putting them into the ground.
This allows the potatoes to dry and develop a protective scab layer that prevents rot and disease transmission. We cut up our potatoes and let them dry on a newspaper on our counter for 3 days before planting.
Once we dug our trenches, it was time to plant the seeds!
For the potatoes, we planted each potato seed about a foot apart in rows that were about two feet apart with the sprouts facing up and covered them in dirt. Once the potato plants sprout out of the ground and grow to about 6 inches, we’ll start piling more dirt on them to eventually form small mounds around each plant until it’s time to harvest.
For the onions, we planted each onion seed about 6 inches apart in rows that are one foot apart. You’ll want to plant onions about 1 inch deep so that their roots are well covered with soil but the top of the plant’s neck is not buried too deeply. Onion bulbs naturally push towards the surface as they grow and it’s good to have the top of the bulbs exposed to the sun.
I planted the carrots, beets, radishes, and lettuce in their own rows and we spaced them according to the instructions on the pack label. These seeds are small so it was a bit of a challenge to pick out each seed and get it spaced perfectly but you can always thin out the seedlings that clump together when they sprout out of the ground.
Once the seeds were all planted on day one, I had Eli write the varieties on the markers and place them by their rows.
Next up, we’ll plant the flowers, cucumbers, and we’ll use peat pellets to start our Dragon Tongue Beans!