The best soil for starting and growing a garden is a soil that is rich with nutrients and has the right moisture content.
Starting a garden really does begin with preparing your garden soil. You need the best garden soil that will nourish your garden plants and help them grow. If you are worried that your garden soil isn’t ideal, no need to fret. That’s what today’s post is about. 😉
There are several ideas and varying opinions on the subject of getting your garden soil just right to optimize the growth of your plants. A lot of the differing of opinions comes in using fertilizers. I prefer natural fertilizers like compost.
The first step is preparing your soil is making sure you have the right mixture of sand, silt, and clay.
Optimally you’ll have 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. If you’d like to test it quickly, just take a handful of soil and squeeze it tightly. Does it stay together? Or does it fall apart when you open your hand?
- You have too much sand if it crumbles.
- If it stays compressed too tightly (even if you poke it), you have too much clay.
- If you poke it with your finger and can get it to fall apart – it’s probably the correct mixture (or very close to it).
Here is another soil testing method.
- Put 2 cups of soil in a clear jar of water.
- Shake it up.
- Let it set. You’ll see 3 layers forming.
- Top layer = clay (is it approximately 20%?)
- Middle = silt (is it approximately 40%?)
- Bottom = sand (is it approximately 40%?)
Too much sand or silt? Just add compost or peat moss.
The next step in preparing garden soil is water content.
Where is your garden located? Is it at the bottom of a hill? Is it where it will be getting too much water and drown your plants?
If you are worried that your garden could possibly get too much water, you can raise your garden up a few inches or use raised bed gardens (like the one to the right ->). They work great.
Nutrients are critical to garden soil. The best garden soil is rich with nutrients and water content is at a good level. If this is the first time you have started a garden in the place you have chosen, you will probably want to start preparing it ahead of time – perhaps even a few weeks ahead of when you plan to plant your garden.
Choose a good vegetable garden fertilizer.
Mix in the compost, organic fertilizer, or fertilizer of your choosing that is appropriate for what you are growing and turn the soil over, mixing and tilling well. This is best done at least 2 weeks or more in advance depending on how fertile or hard your soil is.
The healthiest nutrients and most organic to add to garden soil is compost. A steady diet of organic matter will make your garden soil healthy over time. Compost has helped to invigorate some of the most productive gardens I’ve seen. Your vegetables will be healthier too.
Once your seeds are planted the soil will still need your attention. In fact, the first few weeks are critical because that is when the seeds are sprouting and will need and use the most nutrients.
If your seeds don’t have what the nutrients they need, they won’t grow – or their growth will be stunted and your garden may not be as productive as you’d hoped.
Around the end of the first couple of weeks you will need to add more compost or fertilizer using about the same amount as you did when you were preparing your garden soil. Continue to feed your soil every 2 weeks but use a smaller amount. This should help your garden to thrive.
- Make sure your garden soil has the correct percentages of clay, silt, and sand.
- Make sure you have proper drainage in your garden.
- Add compost (or fertilizer) before and after planting to add rich nutrients.
- Add compost (or fertilizer) around every 2 weeks after that.
Taking the time to prepare your garden soil before planting your seeds will reap great benefits to you and your garden. Following these few steps should help you to have a productive garden that gives you a healthy harvest.
What do you do to prepare your garden soil? Leave me a comment…I’d love to hear from ya!