Direct planting vegetables

Before our current garden I hadn’t tried planting vegetables directly in the soil, I’d always used planter beds. It’s worked really well so far, in fact many of the plants I planted directly in the ground have done better than their raised-bed counterparts.

When we started renting our current house, it was clear nothing had been planted in the soil for quite a while. The dirt was totally exposed, dry, and compact. Being the middle of a California summer, I needed to figure out how to get some moisture into the soil and amend it a bit before planting.

I pickaxed out a few trenches and filled them with a couple of inches of water. They took a long while to drain: dry clay is quite resistant to soaking up moisture. Once they drained I pickaxed out between each trench and filled those trenches with water too. This gave the first 12” or so of soil a nice bit of moisture and made it significantly easier to work with.

Then, I mixed in a few bags of compost with the native soil. I filled back in the area and was ready to plant. I retrospect I probably should have added some more organic matter, but I’d add it later as straw mulch.