Prepping a garden for the growing season can be tricky when planting several different fruits and vegetables. You definitely want to make sure you meet all the plants nutritional need while keeping the soil at a nutritional density that is at appropriate vegetable growing levels. This is a guide will help you meet the nutritional needs of your vegetable garden.
How to Prep Soil for a Vegetable Garden
Heavy rocks, clay soil and poor moisture control can have an effect on plant growth and will need to be worked on before vegetables will do well and this could take several years. So it’s important to understand that when you dig a new garden bed it could be a few years before you have a good amount of nutrient rich soil. Prepping a garden can start immediately but if soil conditions are incredibly bad it may be better and more successful to plant your first garden in raised garden beds filled with nutrient rich soil while the garden plot soil is enriching.
Plan what you are going to plant and then figure out what those plants need as far as nourishment. Plant vegetables that have similar soil requirements together that way you have a nutrient rich area for the group of plants that need that level of nourishment.
Preparing the soil is not the same thing as digging a hole and sticking the plants into it and calling it good. You have to plan it out. Understand that it can take years before soil conditions become “ripe”. You need to dig out the area of your garden and dispose of rocks, large clay chunks and other debris. If the soil is extremely bad you may also need to dig a large deep plot and add in soil purchased from a specialty store like a nursery or greenhouse. Know that the soil will harden up when it’s not in use and you will need to cultivate it before planting.
Most nurseries provide soil testing. If you don't have a nursery near you that provides soil tests, you can buy a soil test kit online and do it yourself. Test your soil and then decide what you need to add to it to bring it to the pH level needed for the plants you are growing.
Here are 10 organic fertilizers that you can mix and match to provide the nutrients needed for the plants you plan to grow. If you need to add a lot of compost to your soil, call local farms to see if they have any aged manure. Many farms will give aged manure away for free if you are willing to load it and haul it yourself.
Ideal Soil Conditions for Favorite Vegetables
These are the more traditional vegetables and fruits grown in the garden. For more plant varieties ask your nursery for soil condition requirements. The below information is nutritional requirements for good growth and healthy harvest.
Onions, green onions, garlic, radish – well draining soil, well rotted farm manure mixed into the soil during spring. Amend soil with lime to get pH at 5.5. Rotate onion crops to different bed each year.
Tomato, peppers and cucumbers – all like well draining soil, full sun with no shade, lots of water and a pH balance of 6.5. Lime and organic matter can help raise or lower pH levels to appropriate measure.
Salad greens, spinach, Swiss chard – they want full sun, no shade. Plant in mounds with a layer of mulch for even moisture. The organic matter will help keep the soil at the right pH levels of between 6.0 – 7.0.
More Gardening Tips
- How to Start Square Foot Gardening
- How to Make a Frugal Cloche
- Companion Plant Gardening
- Vegetable Container Gardening
- Tips for Attracting Bees to your Garden
- How to Make Fast and Easy Compost Pile Using Hay Bales
Emily is passionate about growing her own food, crafts, and sewing. You can find her at Emily’s Frugal Tips.