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share your knowledge in the garden

October 20, 2011
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

As someone who has been a gardener to some extent or other since I could walk and probably more officially since I was 12 years old when I took over the family gardens, gardening has been a force in my life for a very long time.

I find there is a great need for people such as myself to help those out who have not really gardened before. There is a great need for all of us experienced gardeners out there to lend a helping hand to our neighbors, friends and families that would like to garden, particularly vegetable garden, to step forward. You are needed greatly.

The economy has many of us in a pinch for not only "just" food but for "good" food. The price of fresh vegetables and fruit in the stores has become an investment for many people. I have met many people this past summer through various volunteer activities that this need for those of us who have been vegetable gardening for some time, to start to lend a hand to those who we know would like to start their own gardens in some way.

I know that we are in a free fall now toward winter and this might not be the time to start a garden but in reality, this is the time to begin and plan for next year. I often wish that I had been able to talk those who call me in the spring who are starting a new perennial bed or particularly a new vegetable bed - if I just could have heard from them in the fall.

The time is now to get the soils ready for next year's garden. You don't really need to have a particular plan but if your family has decided that your budget could use a boost by planting a garden (a small garden can save you around $300-$600/year in groceries)-particularly a vegetable garden, now we have to decide where that garden is going and get it tilled up before the ground freezes too hard.

There are many, many experienced gardeners and Master Gardeners around the area that can provide you with help in this area.

The steps to getting a new piece of ground ready for spring planting are very simple. Identify the spot that you would like to use, mark it out, have someone help you till it up, add compost, leaves old straw, grass clippings (if your grass has not been treated with lawn chemicals), whatever you might have on hand, and till it into the soil. You are now done and ready for next spring.

Generally speaking, you can go in and use a product such as roundup to get rid of the grass but at this point, the roundup will not work all that well because it is too cold now. In the spring, when the soils have dried sufficiently, then we can till the garden again, probably several times, a week apart or so before we plant it.

This will help to keep down weeds but be prepared-you will always have weeds. There are things you can do to keep the weed population down in your garden without using chemicals which we will start talking about next this winter or next spring.

So, experienced gardeners, the call to help those less experienced then ourselves has been made. There are many out there who can use your valuable knowledge and experience to find their way the first year or two of gardening. We can also use more Master Gardeners in Lyon County and other counties in southwestern Minnesota. To find out more, contact your local extension service for further information.

For more information regarding gardening, you can contact me at



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