Good Soil Preparation Makes Your Garden Grow!
You DO want your garden to grow, right? Good soil preparation is the key. Here are three tests to make sure your vegetable garden plot is ready for planting...
Did you till deep enough? You should be able to easily dig down 6-8 inches with your bare hands. If you cannot accomplish this, you need to till some more. The deeper you till now, the more success your garden will have later. It will also make planting much easier if the dirt has a fine texture and is loose and airy.
- Are there visible plant debris, rocks or big chunks of hard dirt in your garden? If so, you need to remove them. Use a garden rake or a hand rake or just your hands to get rid of the junk. Rocks can make it difficult for root systems to develop. Plant debris often hold weed seeds or fungal spores or even pests like squash bugs and beetles. The cleaner your garden is now, the easier it will be to maintain in the future.
Once there are no visible rocks or plant debris and after you've tilled deep enough, your soil should be tested.
- Does your soil have the right pH level and the right amount of nutrients? If you've had a garden for awhile, you'll know what your soil will need before you plant. If you're new to gardening or you're growing stuff in a new spot, you'll want to invest in an inexpensive soil tester. We like the ones that measure both pH and nutrient levels. They are available at most garden centers for around $25. If your soil is on the acidic side, add some crushed or pulverized garden lime to raise the pH level. (We prefer to avoid the pelletized lime as it takes a little too long to break down.) If your soil needs nutrients, mix in some compost, well rotted manure, balanced fertilizer, etc... We typically add lime and a well balanced granular fertilizer during our soil preparation process. We scatter the soil amendments with our hands. We try to time this so that we apply them just before it rains - this way the lime and fertilizer is broken down by mother nature. Otherwise we water it in with an overhead sprinkler. After the soil dries out enough, we till one last time before planting.
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