If you plan on growing your own vegetable garden, you need to learn about water application, sunlight provision, fertilizer coverage, and weed management. Likewise, one significant matter to know is soil preparation. By ensuring that the soil is ready for new plant growth, you will save time and money in the long run. Here, you’ll learn how to prepare the soil for vegetable garden.
Before you even begin to acquire plant seeds to grow, you must first identify the pH level of the soil in your garden. The pH is used to determine the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. The neutral pH level is 7.0. If your soil has a pH ranging from 1.0 to 6.9, it is noted as acidic.
If the pH level of your soil is between 7.1 and 14, your soil is considered as having more alkaline than acid. In order to grow vegetables, we recommend having a garden soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.9 since vegetables prefer a bit of acidity. With the right soil pH, your vegetables will thrive.
You have three options to get the results.
The first option is to send a soil sample to a commercial soil laboratory. Remember to fill the soil sample with soil from different areas in your garden. Because one soil sample does not accurately represent the average soil pH in your garden. You would not want this to happen as availing this service could cost you a hundred dollars.
The next option you have is to visit a state university that works with a cooperative. Just like the first option, all you have to do is to send a soil sample for testing. The significant difference here is the cost, which will only be around twenty dollars.
Of course, you can opt to do the soil testing yourself. You can get soil test kit for just ten dollars.
Furthermore, you should know that soil pH does not stay the same. It is highly recommended that you check the soil pH level once every two years if you plan on growing new plant varieties in your garden. In particular, you should do it during the fall season.
The fall season is not a suitable season to plant new crops due to the cold temperatures lasting for months. Thus, you have enough time to modify the soil pH level just before you grow plants in spring. Additionally, you must be patient when it comes to adjusting the soil pH level. It could take a month before the soil achieves the recommended pH level, especially if it’s extremely acidic or alkaline.
Here is a video about the soil pH level:
Once you’ve adjusted the soil pH level to suit the vegetables, it’s time to add compost in the garden soil. Compost acts as a natural fertilizer to improve the health of your soil. Apart from being a food source of microorganisms, compost also provides moisture.
While bags of organic compost are available for purchase at your local garden supply store, you can also make your own organic compost for free. Apart from kitchen scraps, you can gather dried leaves, straw, grass clippings, and even manure for your compost pit. Together, they will create a thick layer of compost.
Just remember to move the layers around and to give the compost pit enough moisture. If you are worried that the compost pit will invite rodents and harmful animals in your property, you can get bins to cover the compost pit.
Compost, mulch, and organic matter, in general, will improve the soil texture. If you have sandy soil, you can apply around three to four inches of compost to make it less sandy. Once the vegetables begin to grow, you can apply a layer of mulch around them. This mulch can be made up of bark, dried leaves, and wood chips.
If your garden has silty soil, you can develop the soil texture by applying an inch-thick layer of compost or any organic material. Also, you should stop the soil from becoming compacted. For garden soil that is rich in clay, it should be applied with a two-inch layer of compost.
Consequently, you should consider growing the vegetables in a raised garden bed if you have either silty soil or clay-rich soil. This raised bed will reduce foot traffic and soil compaction while enhancing the drainage.
All in all, preparing the garden soil for growing vegetables is not difficult. You won’t have a problem as long as you are patient and well-informed. Apart from getting the right soil pH, you should also try composting and improving the soil texture.
We hope that our guide helped you in creating your own vegetable garden in the near future. If you have any queries, do send us a comment.
I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.