Don’t make the mistake that some do and assume that just because you’ve got dirt in your yard, you’ve got the right materials to grow a garden! Sometimes Mother Nature needs a little help before the lush garden you’re dreaming of becomes a reality!
After you’ve decided where your garden will be located, there are several ways to prepare it for garden space.
What Kind of Garden Are You Starting?
Are you starting a garden from scratch, or gardening in an existing space?
If starting from scratch, what kind of garden are you putting in? Will it be some sort of raised bed or Lasagna-type garden? If so, the existing soil doesn’t factor into the equation as all the soil that your plants will grow in will be added on top of the current space.
Will it be a more traditional garden where the grass is tilled up and the plants and seeds are planted directly in the yard? If this is the case, tilling, weeding and fertilizing will be in order. If you’re working with the soil already in your yard, you will most likely need to add some sort of boost to it. There are a number of different ways to help your soil become perfect for growing healthy vegetables. Such things include:
- Compost (if you made it yourself even better because it’s FREE)
- Bedding and poo from the chicken coop (you’ve got to add this way before planting time to give it time to mellow–fresh poo is too strong and will burn your plants)
- Purchased soil or a garden mix (like a 4-way soil mix that you can buy by the yard. This mix is generally made up from four of the following: top soil, sand, yard compost, manure compost, bark dust) Buying it by the yard (or even half yard) is way cheaper than by the bag, if you’re using it for more than a couple of containers.
Planning on doing your gardening in containers? You can use pre-mixed or mix-it-yourself varieties of soils. You can also do a lasagna-type layering.
What Kind of Plants are You Growing?
Different plants have different soil and nutrient needs. Figuring out the kinds of vegetables you’re going to grow will help you tailor your soil to your planting needs.
Going Organic or Chemical?
When considering fertilizers and soil-enhancing products, is organic and natural important to you? If so, pay attention to additives. There are great soil enriching materials that don’t add toxicity to your soil such as compost, grass clippings, various manures (ie chicken, bat, worm–all composted), leaves, peat moss, coffee grounds, etc.
There are also commercially made organic fertilizers that add needed nutrients to your soil without adding chemicals.