Gardening tips and tricks

How to make garden soil

Aug 01, 2021

You always want to start with healthy soil. You can get a soil testing

kit from your local extension agent. Let them know you’re trying

organic farming and they’ll give you lots of expert tips.

You need to know whether or not your soil is healthy enough before

you put the first plant into the ground.

For many of us urban dwellers, the soil has been depleted of nutrients

or simply trucked in for construction purposes. A good soil

test will also give you expert recommendations on how to fix

whatever may be wrong.

Soil pH, for example, is important for helping your plants access

the nutrients they need in that soil. The pH tells how acidic or alkaline

your soil may be.

The most important soil component is the organic matter, like

manure, peat, moss, pumice or compost. Your finished soil should be neither

sandy nor too compact.

When the mix is right, the soil will bind together when squeezed,

but break back apart if disturbed. It will retain enough water without

saturating your plants.

Compost is the best option for organic matter because it contains

decayed micro-organisms from plants and is naturally healthier

for your crops. You can make your own compost heap or buy

ready-made compost at the garden store. Be sure to look for organic

compost however.

Reduce weed growth by spreading a one- to three-inch layer of

mulch on top of your soil. This will also lessen fungal disease

spores landing on your plants and will keep the plants cooler in

summer and warmer in winter.

Use an organic material like cocoa-hulls, weed-free straw, or even

newspaper. These will also add beneficial organic matter to your

soil as they decompose. You may or may not need fertilizer, depending

on how good your original soil is.

If you feel you need it, look for well-rotted manure from plant eating

animals like horses, rabbits, sheep, or chickens. You can

also buy organic fertilizer at your garden store.

Be careful though! Too much nitrogen (the first number on the

fertilizer package) will give you lush green plants – but fewer veggies

to harvest. It’s best to get your soil as healthy as possible

without resorting to fertilizer.

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