Have you ever wondered why your neighbor’s vegetable garden always turns up a bountiful harvest? The simple answer is, she properly prepared the soil of her garden to create the best environment for growing vegetables. But, how to prepare the soil for a vegetable garden?
The quality of homegrown vegetables will always be much better than what you can buy in the grocery. When you plant your own vegetables, you and your family can have the pleasure of enjoying only the freshest and most delicious produce.
It can take a year or 2 to prepare a rich soil to promote the growth of extensive and healthy roots that can get as much water and nutrients. This growth environment will ensure a bountiful harvest.
There are however simple soil preparation steps you can take to quickly prepare the soil for a vegetable garden:
- Create the Area of Your Garden.
Dig out an area in your yard for your vegetable garden. Start with the edge and work towards the center of the ground. Use a shower to remove the sod’s top layer. Remove any debris, rocks, and weeds.
- Determine the condition of the soil. A perfect soil for vegetables is one that a balanced combination of clay, sand, and earth, A sandy soil is dry while more clay can make the soil wet. A garden center in your area can test the condition of your soil.
- Test the ph level of your soil. The right soil ph level combined with a soil rich in nutrients provide a healthy environment for your vegetables to grow healthy.
The ph level determines its alkalinity and acidity of your soil. An acidic soil has a ph level of 1.0 – 6.9 on the scale. A reading of 1.0 is the most acidic. An alkaline soil has a ph level of 7.1 to 14.0. A reading of 14 is the most alkaline.
A ph 7.0 on the scale means the soil is neutral. Most vegetables thrive on soil with a ph 6.0 to 6.8 meaning a bit acidic. Here are some common vegetables and recommended soil ph levels:
- Artichoke: 6.5 – 8.0
- Asparagus: 7.0
- Beets: 6.5 – 7.0
- Broccoli: 6.0 – 7.5
- Cauliflower: 6.0 – 7.5
- Carrots: 6.0 – 6.8
- Cabbage: 6.0 – 7.5
- Celery: 6.0 – 7.0
When you are aware of the ph level you can adjust your soil to the right ph level needed for your vegetables. To test the ph level of your soil you can send a soil sample to a commercial soil lab, a garden center in your locality or with a ph tester for soil kit and do the testing yourself.
If your soil registers a ph reading of below 7.0, it means it is acidic. To balance the acidity of the soil, you can add limestone. The ph level can also be raised by the application of wood ash.
If your soil registers a ph reading of above 7.0, it means it is too alkaline. To balance the alkalinity of the soil, apply ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, and urea. You can also apply peat moss, sawdust, shredded leaves and pine needles to lower the alkalinity level of the soil.
- Cultivate the Soil. Use a tiller or a shovel to till the soil up to 12 inches below.
- Add some fertilizer to the soil to ensure healthy growing vegetables. Manure, humus or compost are the best fertilizers for soil when growing vegetables. Set the bags of fertilizer on top of the tilled soil. Open the bags and spread the compost all over the ground with a rake.
Pierce the soil with your shovel to almost 6 inches below while turning the soil to ensure the compost mixes well with the soil.
- Apply topsoil to your planting area, in the same manner, you added the compost. Topsoil will make your vegetables grow healthy in this present planting season. The soil you prepared will be used for future planting.
- Start planting your vegetables a few days after you have tilled your soil. Turn the everyday if you feel you did not turn it adequately yet.
Regardless of the size, lots of water, a good amount of sunlight and a well-prepared soil is what will ensure a successful vegetable garden. After planting your vegetables, monitor the temperature of the soil. The temperature of the soil helps keep your vegetables healthy and alive.
The success of a vegetable garden always starts with the soil. Make sure you have a good soil that is ideal for the vegetables you intend to plant.
Have you grown a successful vegetable garden? Are there any steps in soil preparation that you wish to add? Share with us some of your thoughts in the comments section.
Author: Ann Sanders