Preparing Your Soil for a Vegetable Garden

When deciding to grow a vegetable garden, the first thing to consider is the soil required to build the garden. For the healthy growth of tree, shrubs, and vegetables, the land has to be in good shape. When your soil is in good form, the need for fertilizer or pesticide might not arise. When you prepare your garden for growing vegetables, you are ensuring you would have a successful planting season. A good seed planted on a soil lacking enough nutrient, moisture, and air would go to waste. Below are tips to ensure you have excellent soil for your vegetable garden. 

Determine Your Soil Type

Some crop types grow better in clay soil and sandy soil – most crops grow better in loamy soil because of its richness, ability to hold moisture, aeration and the presence of living organisms like earthworms and microbes. When preparing your soil for a vegetable garden, you need a combination of earth, sand, and clay in equal proportion. Testing your soil before planting would help you determine if you need to amend the soil compost. 

Map Out Your Vegetable Garden Area

After determining your soil type, create the perimeters you intend to plant on by digging the edges. The reason for mapping out your planting area is to ascertain what part of your yard you would be focusing on – in terms of soil preparation. Create perimeters by digging up the edge of the garden area after which you break the ground in-between. Clear out the mapped-out area by removing weeds, rocks, and debris. 

Tillage

Tilling the soil helps to break up the ground and prepare it for planting while providing room for soil amendments. Tilling with a rototiller to about 12-inches down is a great way to correct nutrient or pH imbalance. A rototiller makes your work faster compared to using your hands but avoid over tilling as this would result in smooth powdery dust that dries up during the dry weather and packs hard like concrete. You should also avoid tilling wet soil as this would severally damage your soil structure. 

Fertilization

The best time to fertilize your soil for maximum result is right before planting. Using organic fertilizer is best compared to its inorganic counterparts, which are faster but don’t last in the ground as long as the organic fertilizer. For maximum results, use compost, humus or manure to fertilize. Mix dry fertilizer into the soil according to the direction stated on the label before watering; while liquid fertilizers are sprayed directly on the land. 

Irrigation

Growing a lush and healthy vegetable garden is highly dependent on moisture. A good soil properly cultivated and prepared for vegetable gardening would have plenty of organic matter and hold moisture longer. Having a suitable irrigation system is an excellent idea, especially during the hot weather – ensuring your vegetables get as much water as they might need. 

Preparing your soil for vegetable gardening takes time, but, the end product is always rewarding.

Five Must-Have Gardening Tools

If you’ve ever walked down the garden section of The Home Depot and were amazed at the amount of garden tools you’re not alone. For such a simple pastime, gardening has become increasingly complex in recent decades. From small, gas-powered cultivators to electric grass shears, the tranquil art of gardening has been commercialized with all of the latest technology.

If you’re just keeping a small flower or vegetable garden, there’s no need for all the gadgetry. Our ancestors made due for thousands of years with simple tools. Here are the five utilitarian tools that will prove useful in your garden today.

1. The Spade

Let’s start with the basics. Every gardener needs a spade. You’ll use them when the ice melts to till the soil, you’ll use it in early spring to dig holes for your plants, and you’ll reach for it in the fall when you’re cleaning up after the harvest. A good long-handled spade will last years, require zero maintenance if you keep it out of the rain, and help you multitask in the garden.

2. The Trowel

Like its big brother, the spade, the trowel is also going to help with tasks like digging and mixing soil. But a trowel’s small size allows you to work up-close with the delicate plants in your garden. The trowel helps you shape the rows and sculpt the finer details of your garden.

3. The Rake

There are rakes for every purpose.  But for our purposes you can get away with having two for your garden: one leaf rake and either a hand or bow rake. If you’re the type to kneel down in the dirt and work closely with your plants and soil, go with the hand rake. If you don’t want to do a lot of bending and kneeling a long-handled bow rake is your best bet.

Once you’ve tilled the soil in your garden with a spade, you’ll want to rake it even and break up large clumps of dirt with the bow rake. Then throughout the season you can use the leaf rake to clean up debris from plants, nearby trees, and so on.

4. The Shears

Gardening isn’t just a matter of putting plants in the ground and watching them grow. For a garden to flourish you’ll need to take care of your plants, pruning dead leafs. Some gardeners even prune the first buds of certain vegetable plants to allow the plants more time to grow before they start devoting resources to producing fruit.

Good garden shears must be taken care of. Clean them after use, oil the pivot area, and sharpen them once per year to keep them in good working condition.

5. The Watering Can

All would be for naught if it weren’t for the watering can. It may seem like an item you don’t need to put much thought into. But there are certain things you should look for in a watering can.

Firstly, the can should strain water into small streams when you pour it out. This allows you to cover the soil evenly and to avoid dumping a heavy stream of water onto delicate plants.

You should also be sure to pick a can that’s both big and sturdy. Know your limits; if you don’t think you’re up to carrying 3-5 gallons of water for prolonged periods go with something smaller and elect to take more trips to the tap.

 

These five time-tested tools are all you need to keep a healthy garden.