Gardening Series #3: Now What? How to get your Garden Ready!

This is the 3rd installment in the series. 

#1: Reasons to Plant a Vegetable Garden

#2: What Kind of Garden Should I Plant?

Welcome back to the third installment in my Gardening Series. If you missed the first two, the links are at the top of this post.

If you ask any successful gardener what the most important aspect of their garden is, they will tell you that it is SOIL. Having your soil just right is the difference between a bumper crop and devastating failure. Today we will be talking about soil prep and how to get it as good as you can.

How Do I Know What my Soil Needs?

The easiest way to find out is to talk to successful gardeners in your area. They have been tackling your area’s trouble spots for some time and know the tips and tricks to propserous yields.  Another way is to take a soil sample from your prospective garden to your local agriculture extension office for testing. You can get most soil samples back in a week or two and they will counsel you on what your soil needs.

prepare the soil

If this is your first time gardening in a specific area (in-ground, or raised bed) there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • Determine the soil ph – Get yourself a Soil test kit and find out the ph of your soil. If it is too acidic, it can be neutralized by using lime. If it is too basic, you might need gardener’s sulfur and some compost to make it more acidic.
  • “Double-dig” – Dig down a foot or so and turn the soil. Remove all rocks and roots. You can do this using a shovel, or a pitchfork. Using a tiller can work too, just be careful when using.
  • Check the moisture – The soil should be dry before planting. As soon as you plant you will need to water, but not prior to putting plants or seeds into the ground.
  • Adding organic matter – Organic matter (such as compost or manure) gives soil the nutrients that it needs to fuel plant growth. You can either create your own compost pile, or buy it through your local garden center. Be careful though, a little can go a long way.
  • Level the soil – It may seem like overkill but it i necessary to level out your soil in your garden to make sure that water is uniformly absorbed by your plants.
  • Mulch your paths –  Adding mulch or hay in between garden rows will help with deterring the growth of weeds.

Learning about soil preparation is not hard, it just requires your attention and a little bit of time. This will definitely be time well spent and will help you have a healthy and fruitful harvest.

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