How To Prepare Your Garden For Planting Vegetables
Spring is Here!
For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s springtime! Many of you started your seeds indoors months ago when it was still too cold to grow them outside. You have been nurturing them, waiting in anticipation for that last frost date when its warm enough to plant them outdoors. You’ve already begun transitioning your indoor seedlings by putting them outside a few hours a day, gradually increasing the time they are outside so they are ready for their permanent home in you garden. You can hardly wait to get your hands in the soil and feel the warm sun on your back. The only thing that’s left to do is to get your garden bed ready!
Let’s take Mary Jo, for example. She had the space to plant vegetables but felt it would take too much time, was too complicated and would cost too much money to prepare her garden soil. In the video below, from the $10 Garden Series, Mary Jo and I prepare her soil to plant her vegetables. I’ve included detailed how to steps, below the video.
Preparing your garden soil for planting vegetables is a critical step in a successful garden. Taking the time to do it right will pay big dividends down the road to a productive and healthy garden that will put food on your table. I am going to show you a 3 step process to prepare your garden bed in a quick, simple way that will fit into your budget and will help you grow productive, healthy plants that will give back to you many times over.
Step 1 – Loosen the Soil
By now, you should have decided on a sunny location for your garden that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun a day. If your soil is compacted, the roots will be working harder to push down into the soil and won’t be able to take up nutrients and water properly, which means they won’t grow well. Water won’t be able to permeate heavily compacted soil, and your plant roots will suffocate and won’t get the air and water they need. Loose, fluffy soil will produce strong, sturdy, healthy plants that will be able to put their energy in to producing veggies for your table.
The first step to preparing your garden for planting is to loosen the soil to a depth of about 12 inches with a shovel, pitchfork or tiller, using the technique I show in the video above. This step is especially important in a new garden plot, or if your soil is compacted. If you are planting in an existing garden plot and your soil is loose, you may be able to skip this step and move on to step 2.
Step 2 – Remove Weeds and Rocks
The second step to preparing your garden bed is to remove the weeds and rocks. This will help your veggies be able to take up all the nutrients they can from your soil without competing with the weeds. Since weeds grow vigorously, they will also compete for space by choking out the veggies and must be removed.
As you loosen the soil with your pitchfork (step 1), you will also be loosening the weeds. With each turn of the soil, gently pull the weeds to remove them from the soil clump. As you pull them, shake the soil off the weeds, leaving as much soil as you can in your garden bed (see video above). Repeat this process all around your garden bed until all soil is loosened up and the weeds are removed and disposed of in the trash. I do not like to compost weeds because I don’t want the chance of weed seeds that end up in my compost popping up in my garden at a later date.
After the weeds are removed, if there are still large chunks of soil in your garden bed, pound on them with a rake to break them up so the soil is nice and loose. Remove any rocks you find in the soil.
Step 3 – Amend the Soil
Amending, or improving your garden soil, is of the most important investments of time and money you can make for your garden. Amending your soil will feed your plants, which in turn will feed you.
You may be one of those gardeners who is blessed with beautiful, nutrient rich soil. However, most of us have less than perfect soil in our gardens and need amend our soil with organic materials. Organic material such as compost, will not only increase the nutrients in the soil, but also loosen up compacted soil, so that air, water, and roots can penetrate.
An easy and effective way to amend existing garden soil is by adding compost – it has the nutrients needed to help your garden explode with growth. This can be done inexpensively by finding a soil company in your area that sells compost in bulk. In my area, a yard (a small pick up load) of compost can be purchased for around $40 , and picked up with a borrowed or rented pick up truck, if you don’t have one. The same amount of bagged compost purchased from a garden center will cost $150-$200. I usually split a load with a friend, making it even more cost effective.
Add a few inches of compost to your garden bed, working it in with your pitchfork or shovel, as I show in the video above, taking care not to step on the soil as you work it in, so as not to compact it again!
Once you have worked a few inches of compost into your soil, water it by hand, or add a drip irrigation system, soak it down, and you are ready to plant your garden!
Start your Garden Today!
If you haven’t started growing your garden yet, you’re in the right place! I’ll show you how in a quick, simple and inexpensive way with my free growing guide “Grow 3 Vegetables in 6 Weeks”. After reading it, you’ll know just what to do to get started. You’ll not only experience the health benefits of growing and eating your own delicious food, but you’ll also see the positive impact it will make on your mind and soul.
Register to get your free copy and then comment to let me know what you are looking forward to about learning to grow your own food!
Have you prepared your garden for spring planting yet? Leave me a comment and let me know how you like to do it, I’d love to hear from you!