Preparing your soil to plant vegetables is a pretty straightforward and simple task. Simple, but not easy. There is some sweat equity involved… but once your soil is ready, you’ll be amazed at how well your vegetables grow.
Let’s get started…
* Step #1 – Test the pH of your soil
Use a soil pH meter to test the pH value of your soil. It should be in the 6.0-7.0 range. Your soil should not be too acidic or alkaline.
If the pH value of your soil falls outside the recommended range, do read this article on how to fix this problem. (link to ‘How to Fertilize Your Garden on a Budget’ article)
* Step #2 – What type of soil do you have?
If the soil in your garden is sandy, it’ll not retain water. If it’s clay, it’ll retain too much water and may be waterlogged.
Sandy and clay soil can both be mitigated by adding a 2-inch layer of compost and mixing the soil.
* Step #3 – Till the soil
Use a rake like the Ergieshovel cultivator to till the first 6 to 12 inches of your soil. Do this when the soil is dry. Avoid tilling wet soil or you’ll destroy the soil structure.
While tilling, remove weeds, branches, twigs, etc. Also, remember to place a few wooden blocks or tiles on the garden and stand on them when tilling the ground.
This will ensure that you’re not stepping around the garden haphazardly and compacting the soil.
* Step #4 – Do a drainage test
Dig a small hole in the soil and fill it with water. Then see how long it takes for the hole to empty. The water should not drain too slowly or too fast. About 2 inches per hour is ideal.
* Step #5 – Spread the compost
Get enough compost for your garden and work it into the soil gently. Another good addition to the soil will be worm castings. Using these to your soil will help to add nutrients and microbes to the soil. This is fantastic for encouraging your plants to grow well.
* Step #6 – Wait 3 weeks
Ideally, you should wait about 3 weeks for the compost to break down fully (if it’s not already) and give your soil time to absorb the nutrients.
* Step #7 – Start planting
Now the fun begins! You can start planting the vegetable seeds.
You may wish to use a seeding square to get the spacing just right.
If you’re wondering what equipment you’ll need if you’re new to vegetable gardening, you may read our article here. (Link to ‘Essential Gardening Equipment for Beginners’ article)
“Gardening is the purest of human pleasures.” – Francis Bacon