Before planting your seeds, you need to tend to your soil, a very important ingredient for healthy, happy plants. To create better soil, consider the following:
- Do a soil test. I picked up a soil test for about $20 at the local hardware and gardening store. As I expected, my soil was in need of all the key plant foods: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash. Knowing this, I created a fertilizer with all of these foods that I mixed into the soil before planting and right after planting the seeds.
- Add organic matter/compost. Most soil needs help to have more space for air, water, and the roots to penetrate. It is important to mix in organic matter/ compost at least once/year. I have started a compost bin and use this to add organic matter to my garden beds. You can also buy compost. Mix this into your soil prior to planting or just add it on top of the soil and let it decompose.
- Add lime. This year, I decided to add lime to my soil to raise the PH level, making it more neutral and a more comfortable environment for worms, plants, and even fertilizer. The soil test will also tell you the pH level of your soil so you will know if it is low and therefore more acidic and in need of lime.
- Add fertilizer. As mentioned above, I added fertilizer to the beds prior to planting and immediately after planting before watering.
- Add compost – I shoveled and mixed in the compost. Some experts recommend to let the compost decompose into the soil and not to break it up with a shovel.
- Add lime
- Added fertilizer and mixed in with shovel (again breaking up the soil)
- Leveled the soil in the beds for planting
Now that you have a plan for growing your vegetables and have prepared your soil, it is time to plant!