How do I prepare the soil for a vegetable garden?
Preparing soil for growing vegetables generally means creating a good environment that will enhance successful planting.
Although the process might require some time, it is vital for a thriving vegetable garden.
Apart from plenty of water and sunlight, a proper pH level and some nutrients are very helpful in creating a healthy environment for the vegetables.
Understanding soil characteristics of a garden before planting any crop is something that many gardeners ignore and end up being discouraged with growing their own food.
To create a favorable environment for the growth of your vegetables, do the following:
Test soil pH
Before planting your vegetables, ensure you determine the pH level of the soil in the garden.
PH is simply the acidity or alkalinity levels in the soil. A neutral level is pH 7.0 on the scale.
An acid level ranges from 1.0 to 6.9 while the alkaline level ranges from 7.1 to 14.0 on a scale.
Most vegetable varieties prefer a soil that is slightly acidic with a pH level that ranges from 6.0 to 6.8.
The soil pH level should be tested at an interval of about two years.
However, regardless of the results you obtain, it can take a month or more to ensure that the soil is adjusted to the required level. However, you must factor in soil adjustment time to the planting schedule to avoid delays.
Any time is a perfect time for soil testing in your garden although many gardeners prefer the cold months of the fall season because they don’t plant at this time.
There’re various ways to test soil ph. There’s an expensive way of testing soil pH that gives more accurate results, and there’re cost-effective ones that are best for all average home gardeners.
The expensive way involves sending a soil sample to commercial soil laboratories while the less expensive ways are as follows:
* Soil pH test kit
It’s an economical way of testing soil pH that gives fast results.
The kit contains everything that’s needed except clean bowls needed for placement of soil samples.
t also comes with a step by step guide that is numbered to make the process of pH testing easy.
For soil adjustment, one may need to apply materials such as calcic limestone or dolomite, iron sulfate, hydrated lime or even aluminium sulfate.
The soil pH test kit also contains instructions on how to adjust the soil using a certain amount of the named materials.
* Digital soil pH meter
It’s also an effective pH measuring tool that is easy to use.
One simply collects a soil sample, mixes with water, and then waits for approximately five minutes before placing the device in the mixture.
The meter records the results right away.
Unlike the pH test kit, the digital soil pH meter doesn’t provide any information about soil adjustments.
Analyze the garden soil to know its condition
Having too much of sandy soil in your garden may make the soil to dry, while too much of clay soil make it too wet.
To have a successful vegetable garden, the soil must have a perfect combination of earth, clay, and sand.
Since the analysis can be difficult to perform individually, you can collect a sample and send it to a local garden center for the analysis.
Cultivate the garden soil by turning it using a shovel or rototiller
Tilling the soil is very important because it breaks it up into small particles and prepares it for planting.
Till the garden soil 30cm down.
The use of a rototiller will make the process faster especially if you want to grow your vegetables in a large piece of land.
Also, don’t forget to remove all rocks and debris when still working.
Add soil fertilizer
Fertilizer is basically the food required for the survival of your garden.
And just like human beings need more of a nutrient to stay healthy, the same happens to plants.
Depending on the vegetable varieties you want to grow and the type of soil in your garden, you may be required to provide more of a particular nutrient.
A basic vegetable garden requires nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and potassium (K).
Depending on the nutrient deficiency of your garden soil, you will be able to mix some combination of certain nutrients to create the required environment.Fertilizers come in various brands where you can choose one. Every fertilizer brand is just good as another.
Sprinkle the fertilizer lightly on your garden soil and then mix well. Also, make sure you follow the instructions on the fertilizer bag to ensure that you’re treating the garden soil correctly.
Too much amounts aren’t encouraged because they might burn the seeds even before they grow.
Add top soil to the garden surface
This process is similar to the addition of compost on your garden area.
Good top soil will enable one to grow a garden in the present as the current soil prepares itself for a future planting.
In most cases, top soil is rich in humus due to the decayed materials such as grass, leaves and other materials.
It also contains plenty of essential minerals that are required for plant growth. It also contains living organisms such as earthworms, fungi, and bacteria which help in maintaining the soil quality.
It’s the addition of dry materials such as leaves and grass to form protection of the top soil.
Mulching will protect the vegetables from frost, ensure moisture doesn’t evaporate from the soil and suppress weeds.
The organic mulch decomposes to form part of soil nutrients that will help the vegetables to grow well.
These are some of the things you need to do to prepare your garden soil adequately before planting vegetables.
The whole process isn’t challenging especially for those who understand the benefits of preparing the soil to get good yields.
Don’t simply jump these vital processes of determining the soil requirements before planting a crop to avoid getting losses as a result of an un-conducive environment that doesn’t favor their growth.
First, just determine the kind of vegetables you want to grow and then go on with the processes as explained above.
Author Bio: Hi! This is Ella Wilson, the founder of TinyPlantation.com. Being a devotee with plants and gardens, you will find numerous things with me. I have developed enough interest regarding plants that these things do not bore me anymore; instead this has become my passion.