It is a common fact, that the soil is tilled and prepared before large-scale cultivation of crops. The same technique can be employed in case of home gardens. Preparing the soil beforehand, may prove beneficial for the healthy growth of plants. An ideal garden soil must be well drained, deep, loose, and fertile. It must have a neutral pH value, and must contain decayed organic matter. As the requirements of individual plants vary, you can make the necessary amendments before planting. With proper preparation, almost all types of soil can be made ideal for growing a garden.
How to Prepare Garden Soil
Most of the soil types have some imperfections that can be corrected with simple procedures. So, before starting with garden soil preparation, you have to check the soil for such imperfections, and rectify them. In most cases, addition of organic matter and gypsum to the soil, is the ideal way to correct mild imperfections. Organic matter includes peat, decomposed leaves, pasteurized animal manure, and compost. However, it will be always better to test the soil pH levels.
The pH value ranges between 1 (acidic) and 14 (alkaline). While the lower ranges are acidic, the higher ones are alkaline in nature. A pH value of 6 to 7 is considered neutral, and this is what, most plants require. There are some plants that can tolerate a little bit of variation in the pH range. While most of the soil imperfections can be rectified by adding gypsum and compost; in some cases, you may need expert advice. If the methods suggested are not cost-effective, you may opt for raised bed gardening or container gardening.
Early spring is the best season for garden soil preparation. Once the soil becomes workable, test for imperfections, and gather the materials required for rectifying the same. The following tips will help you in this task.
- Start with tilling the soil at the site, where you plan to grow plants. If the area is too grassy, then make sure to remove the sod too.
- It will be better to go for a soil pH test at this stage. The soil has to be dry, while taking samples for testing.
- While the ideal soil pH for most of the plants is between 6 and 7, slight variations will be tolerated by many. Otherwise, you can correct the soil condition with additives.
- If you are preparing garden soil for vegetables, then the pH should be between 6 and 6.5.
- Once you receive the test results, use those additives, that are recommended for rectifying the soil condition.
- In case of highly acidic soil, you can add sulfur; and lime can increase the acidity.
- While peat moss can be added to hard clay soil, rocky soil has to be added with some top soil.
- Make sure to remove rocks, weeds, and grass, while tilling. You may also break big clumps of soil, but keep in mind that the soil need not be flour fine.