Gardening experts know that you simply can’t sow seeds any time you like. One thing you need to know about how to get your soil ready for gardening is that it should be done anywhere from two to four months in advance. For first-time gardeners, that might seem like a lot of work, but the soil is the foundation of a productive garden.
What you want to achieve by getting your soil ready is that it’s clean, healthy, and suited to the types of plants you are planning to grow in your garden. In this article, we’ll cover everything – from cleaning to feeding to determining soil health.
Clear Your Garden
Garden preparation begins with clearing up your area. Start with picking up larger debris, such as rocks and branches. Remove weeds and dead plants. Clear away twigs, brush, and fallen leaves. Trim overgrown hedges to keep the appearance of a neat garden.
Identify any plants that you want to keep, such as perennials, shrubs, and climbers. If they may not fit the layout you have in mind, you can re-pot or relocate them to somewhere more useful. Read up on companion planting, particularly if you are planning to grow vegetables because some common herbs and flowers can contribute to the richness of your garden.
Take advantage of the seasons before you clear your garden. Doing this in the summer will be an exhausting task. On the other hand, late autumn or early spring will not only provide much cooler weather, but there won’t be as much plant life to clear away. Knowing how to get your soil ready for gardening on different seasons will assure you of enjoyable planting experience.
Aerate The Soil
One of the most important things to know on how to get your soil ready for gardening is the amount of air that gets through the soil. Compacted soil is not good for plants because it does not allow air to pass through. Plants need air above and below ground. Aerating the soil is one way of preparing the ground for a garden. Organisms that live underground and contribute to your garden’s ecosystem also need air.
You can aerate your soil using a rototiller or a hand tiller to break up the ground and turn over the soil. A rake or a spade will also be sufficient. While you are breaking up the soil, look out for rocks, branches, and other large debris buried under the soil. You will want to remove those as well.
The type of soil you have also determined how well air can penetrate it. Silty and heavy clay won’t let much air pass through its small particles. On the other hand, sandy soils will let in too much air.
Feed The Soil
There are several ways to enrich your soil. Adding compost will help almost any type of soil. Organic compost can be purchased at stores, but you can also make your own. The composted organic materials are an abundant food source for the microorganisms living in the soil.
Mulch is another way to enrich your soil. Organic mulch comes in the form of straw, hay, grass, clippings, and shredded bark. Examples of inorganic mulch are pebbles, gravel, black plastic, and landscape fabrics. You can use them to cover the top of the soil to keep the temperature balanced. This works for protection against extreme heat and cold. Mulch also prevents weed growth and excessive water loss.
Fertilizer contains a blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These make helps in the yield and quality of your plants and crops. You can use dry or liquid fertilizer. Whatever you use, be sure to pick organic fertilizer because, synthetic ones are bad for the environment and can make your soil worse in the long-run, even though they release nutrients faster.
Testing For Soil Health
Before you starting planting, you need to learn how to get the ground ready for a garden. This involves checking whether your soil is not only rich but balanced and suited for your plants.
How much you feed your soil and what type of nourishment you give depends on your soil’s health. The quickest way to determine what your soil needs is by testing its pH balance. The pH level of the soil will tell you whether it’s acidic or alkaline. Depending on your garden’s needs, you will either want to make it more alkaline or balance it out.
If your soil is too acidic, you can balance it by adding limestone, preferably during the fall. You can also raise the pH level of the soil by adding wood ash. However, not all plants need alkaline soil, like azaleas and blueberries. Meanwhile, if you need to make your soil more acidic, you can add sulfur, sawdust, conifer needles, or oak leaves. The health of your soil is crucial to your knowledge of how to get your soil ready for gardening.
Good, organic soil should be rich in humus, which is the result of decaying materials. When compost, leaves, grass, and clippings decay, they turn into humus. While a pH testing meter can tell you how balanced your soil is, you can also determine its health just by checking how loose and fluffy. It is and if there are living organisms, like fungi and earthworms.
Whether you want to know how to get the soil ready for planting flowers or vegetables, you must always begin with the soil. Garden soil in good shape will do most of the work your plants need. Now that you know how to get your soil ready for gardening, you can stop worrying about bad aeration, irrigation, and weed growth. You will also be needing less pesticides when you have good garden soil. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants and an overall healthy environment. Find out more about soil care.