What Makes Good Vegetable Garden Soil?
When you’re growing a vegetable garden, you need good quality soil. While many plants will grow in soil that is poor, to increase your yield you should have a quality medium for your plants to grow in.
Your vegetable garden soil will be different to your regular garden bed soil. Vegetables need high quality topsoil to thrive. If your garden doesn’t have quality soil, you can improve your garden and your crop’s yield.
For optimum preparation, you should begin to prepare your soil a year before you plant out your garden. By beginning early you are allowing the nutrients and additives time to break down. As they compost they will blend with your existing soil and make a better base for your garden.
Get Rid Of The Weeds And Previous Crops
Remove all of the weeds and dead plants, any remaining vegetable crops from last year. If you leave these plants with the intention of improving your soil through their leaves composting you may be sorely disappointed. Your soil can in fact deteriorate. You also leave yourself open to pests and diseases that can be encouraged by the decaying vegetation.
Get Your Vegetable Garden Soil Tested
If you are unsure of how good your soil is, you can take a sample to your local garden center for analysis. Take up a sample in a closed container such as a glass jar and they will let you know if you have porous soil or soil which has a higher composition of clay. High clay content will prevent water from flowing freely in your garden. They will also be able to advise you on what to add so that your soil is optimal for planting vegetables.
Turn Over Your Soil – also known as Blood Sweat and Tears
Turn over your soil. This is not a job for the faint hearted. You need to turn over the top 12 inches (30 centimeters for those on the metric system) of your garden bed. You can do this with a garden fork, or a rototiller. Using a rototiller, with blades that chop up the soil, will make the job much easier, but if your garden plot is relatively small or in an awkward position you may find it easier to till it by hand. You can purchase a rototiller from a hardware store, garden supply store or many rental companies will rent one out to you.
Add Organic Matter
Once your soil is turned over, you should add organic matter to the soil. This can be manure, compost or straw. Organic matter will take time to decompose and become part of the soil. Usually it will take a year or two to fully break down and decompose. You will always gain benefit from turning the soil and composting, even if you plant your vegetables straight away.
A point to note if you are adding manure to your garden bed, make sure that it isn’t going to bring in weeds. Horse manure is notorious for spreading clover and it can be almost impossible to get rid of.
Bring In Topsoil
Add topsoil to your garden. You can purchase top soil from your garden center in bags or if you go to a bulk supply agent you can get it by the tonne (or part thereof). Because the organic matter you have added will take time to break down, adding topsoil to your garden specifically designed for vegetables will give your crop a head start.