Mary, Mary, quite contrary. How does your garden grow?

Very well, actually. But the first few attempts? Not so much. One of the first things I learned was that here in the 'burbs, a good garden requires a good fence. Unless of course you want to just feed the neighborhood wildlife. Be sure to bury it a few inches into the ground to keep the rabbits and groundhogs from burrowing under.
Second thing? Unless you dig into your soil and find it rich and black, it probably could use some improvement. If you have a lot of clay, mix in some peat moss, and remove as much clay and rocks as you can. Early on, you are probably going to have to buy compost, but check Craigslist. You will often find someone offering manure, or a manure/hay mixture. This is perfect. Start now preparing your garden for your first planting, next spring. Remove grass from your chosen area. You can create raised beds if you like (landscape timbers work well for building the boxes), but we find that they require more watering. You can of course, dig by hand a small plot, making sure to turn the soil at least 6 inches down. For larger areas, you can hire someone to plow your patch. Once this is accomplished, mix in some of the compost/manure. Add some more on top, and let it rest until spring. You can cover it with landscape fabric or black plastic to speed killing off the weeds that will come, but other than weed control, let it rest. Come spring, plow/dig it in again, and you will be ready to plant.
Now is the time to start composting as well. There are gadgets you can buy to make this a bit more sophisticated, but I am a big fan of my mother's method, and keep it simple. All fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, - go into a small container I keep on my kitchen counter. After dinner, that goes out to the compost pile, where grass clippings are added. My pile is in the woods behind my house. Mom's was just beside the garden. When plants die down, they are pulled and added to the pile as well. We have a fish pond, so the goop from the filter, and muck from cleaning the pond, goes in as well.  Every month, the pile is turned. Eventually this all gets very warm, and starts to rot. This is a very good thing! You can start new piles every so often and let them rot down completely- but again, I keep it simple. After about 3 months, you have compost at the bottom of the pile, it just needs to be scooped up and added to the garden.
Once your plants are up and growing, this is great for "top dressing". Shovel some compost around the base of each plant. It will not only provide great fertilizer (organic, natch!), but will help with weed control.
That is enough for today, I think. What do you want to know about next?

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