As we get those few glimpses of warmer days to come, I start daydreaming about gardening and the plants and veggies I’m gonna grow. None of this growing can happen though without good quality soil. Aside from water, soil is the nutrient feeding machine that can make or break your growing season. So its very important to take the time beforehand to properly prep your soil for the spring season.
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All Soil is not Made Equally
My soil can be completely different than my neighbors soil. Climate, organisms and the organic matter that is introduced to the area all contribute to the soil’s attributes.
Soil compositions can be clay, sandy, silt or loamy type. Ideally you’d want your soil to be loamy with just enough drainage but able to maintain some moisture for your plants. Unfortunately most of us don’t have the ideal soil type and must amend it.
This soil type is heavy and does not have adequate drainage. You’ll find that with this soil in the summer it bakes hard and cracks. You can identify clay soil by being able to ball the soil up in your hands because it holds its texture.
Sandy soil drains freely and doesn’t retain enough nutrients to feed your plants. It has the largest particles so water isn’t easily kept within the soil. It is gritty and falls apart easily in your hands.
Silt soil holds moisture better than sandy soil because it’s particles are smaller but it is compact and cannot drain properly. Because silt soil holds water air cannot get into the space between particles, therefore your plants won’t survive in such an environment.
Another consideration is the pH of your soil because that will dictate what you will be able to plant in that area. You can easily test your soil by buying a kit.
No worries though, if you have clay or sandy type soil you can easily amend it with some organic matter.
The easiest way for you to add your compost is to directly cover your garden area with at least 4-6 inches of the organic matter and let those wonderful worms do the rest. The worms will be able to get all those nutrients into your soil without you having to do any of that back breaking work. Also your not disrupting the integrity of the soil this way.
Prior to winter after I’ve pulled out the remains from my summer/fall planting, I also like to add a layer of compost. Then a few weeks prior to planting I add the 4-5 inches of compost this way you’ve given time for the compost’s nutrients to get into your soil. I also liked to use a breathable-not plastic- weed barrier to help keep down the weeds.
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After planting you also might want to top with another 1-2 of compost. Come spring your garden will be ready to plant immediately because you’ve taken a little time beforehand to prep the soil properly.
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