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8 tips for preparing an ecological garden


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1. Make an inventory of your tools
Grelins, forks, spades, wheelbarrows, hoes, seeders, planters, pruning shears... The right tools make the right workers! So, we check our equipment: we sharpen, clean and repair. And we start looking for the missing equipment.

An occasional need? Then you can borrow or rent it. Our good addresses below.

If you know that you will need it often, you can consider a purchase of equipment, smart and durable.

Here are a few tips:

Invest in robust and therefore durable tools: wrought iron is more expensive but lasts a long time.
Choose equipment adapted to your size: some tools come in different handle lengths and working widths.
Test before buying: to know with which tool you can work quickly and well. If the store does not offer this service, you can borrow the tool from a neighbor or friend.
Are you missing a lawnmower? Take a look at the ecoconso's advice on how to choose one!
2. Clean up thoroughly
Spring often rhymes with major cleaning. We clear the garden, the vegetable garden or the balcony of dead plants, crop remains, broken branches and "weeds". But for an organic garden, we do without pesticides. This is also the time to prune some perennials and some trees and shrubs.

We also remove the protections of the ground (old carpet, cardboard, straw...). If you plan to cover the ground with a mulch, it is better to wait a little before placing it. After winter, the soil must warm up. The seedlings will need warmth to develop.

3. Know the soil compositionAnalyze the soil of your garden
It's best to know your soil before planting, especially if it's going to be used as a vegetable garden. Naturally perfect soil is rare. It can lack essential nutrients for the plants that will be planted or transplanted.

A soil test will ensure that the soil is suitable for growing food and will provide other useful information.

A soil sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. It takes between two weeks and a month to receive the results: the composition of the soil, the elements present or missing, the pH... For cultivated areas, it is interesting to repeat the operation every 4 to 6 years.
4. Prepare the soil
Before sowing or planting, it is necessary to prepare the soil that will host the plantations. It is the soil that provides the water and nutrients necessary for their growth.

It is recommended to loosen the soil: this means breaking up the clods to refine the soil. Be careful not to turn the soil over. It is rich in organisms that are essential for plant growth. Stirring up the soil can unbalance it.

To aerate the soil without damaging it, you should use good gardening tools such as the grelinette or the spading fork. This is also an opportunity to remove large stones.

Fertilize the soil, unless you have already done so in the fall. We bring basic or complementary fertilizer, which will nourish the crops throughout the summer. For an organic garden, we prefer natural fertilizer. This is also the time to mow the plants planted as green manure that have spent the winter. They can be shredded or buried superficially.
5. Anticipate the season's cropsOrganize vegetable garden plantings
During the season, certain crops follow one another on the same plot. For a harmonious and productive vegetable garden, we anticipate and make a plan that takes into account the association and rotation of crops.

Crop associations are important. Some plants have a beneficial effect on their neighbors: to keep diseases and parasites away, to fertilize the soil... They are then grown close to each other. Other marriages, on the other hand, cause harm to each other.

Crop rotation consists in alternating, each year, the plantations on the same ground. This balances the soil, discourages undesirables and has many other benefits.

6. Start sowing and planting
We start by choosing good seeds. We prefer traditional seeds, which are adapted to our climate. And preferably without pesticides. At the end of the season, we will be able to harvest the seeds of plants for the next years.

It is necessary to sow and plant at the right time. If you start too early, the seedlings and plants will suffer from frost. If you start too late, they may not recover well or have time to grow.

Spring is a good time to plant many species. Some are planted in March/April, such as perennials in containers or softwoods. In order not to slow down their recovery, plants should be planted when the risk of frost has passed

We pay particular attention to fragile seeds. According to the species, one can practice :

the "warm sowing", inside the house, the veranda...
sowing under shelter", outside under a protection (winter veil, under a frame...).
Once the seedlings have developed, they are transplanted into other pots or in the ground. Some hardy crops, such as beans and peas, can be placed outdoors earlier.

7. Discourage undesirables
"Weeds," diseases, slugs, aphids and other undesirables are a gardener's bane. They can be kept out of the garden without resorting to synthetic pesticides. But you can't wait to be invaded: you can do it before or at the beginning of the crops.

The best way to fight weeds is to use mechanical solutions. You can block the development of these weeds by installing a mulch or by making a false seeding before the crops. If they still appear, other methods can be used: weeding, scalding (without salt) or thermal weeding.

To keep slugs away, you can plant repellent plants near the vegetable garden, encourage their predators, work the soil properly or place the compost away from them. There are many preventive measures against slugs.

8. Prepare the watering
A vegetable garden must be watered, of course. Some vegetables need a lot of water. Depending on the crop and the weather, you need between 0 and 6 liters of water per day and per square meter. 

Collect rainwater
In the garden, there is nothing better than rainwater. It's a godsend: it's free! It is even more suitable if the water used for watering is soft, low in calcium and iron.

No rainwater tank yet? Find out about the different ways to collect rainwater: tubs, barrels, buried or unburied cisterns. The ideal is a closed system: it limits evaporation and protects the water from dirt and mosquito breeding, for example.Watering the garden and vegetable garden with rainwater

If you only use water in the garden, you don't need a big installation. A simple barrel can do the trick. Connect it to the gutters of the roof or garden shed. It is helpful to place a small screen (or strainer or toadstool) above the downspout or on the lid of the barrel, depending on the system used. This will prevent dirt from accumulating in the water.

If you have already installed catch basins, check their condition and clean them if necessary.

Limiting water requirements
To reduce the water needs of a plot, it is recommended to hoe the soil once a week: that is to say to loosen the clods of the surface layer of the soil. Loosened soil absorbs water more easily.

Mulching is a technique that saves a lot of water. This protective layer keeps moisture close to the plants. They are then less likely to get thirsty.

In season, we also think of :

collect the water from washing the vegetables and use it in the garden;
water rarely but abundantly so that the water permeates the deep layers of the soil;
Water early in the morning or late in the evening to take advantage of the night's humidity;
Pour water at the base of the vegetables.
You are now ready to prepare your garden or vegetable patch in an ecological way. So, let's get started. The gardening tools have been sitting in the shed for too long.

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