One of the most important things for every gardener is to prepare soil for planting. If you undermine this part of preparation, there is nothing you can do to fix things later. Proper preparing of the soil will give you much better growth rate of the plants and much bigger harvest. There are many ways and methods of soil preparation and it’s hard to tell which one is the best. We prefer the traditional till method with organic fertilizers and this method is the most common way of preparing the soil in the U.S. and thorough the globe. In this article we will cover basic things you should know about preparing the soil for planting in the spring.
When to start preparing the soil
The best time to start preparing the soil is in the late autumn or in the beginning of the winter. You need to till the soil and turn it around because in that way all organic things in the ground will rot and fertilize your soil. Then, in the spring, you will have a fertilized soil which doesn’t require additional tilling. Don’t start preparing the soil too early in the spring because you will make things even worst. How can you tell whether your garden has dried out enough to be worked? The best test of soil condition is by fingering a handful of soil. Just grab about half a cup of earth in your hand and squeeze the soil together so that it forms a ball. If the ball of earth can readily be shattered by pressing with your fingers or dropping it from a height of 3 feet or so, it’s dry enough for cultivation. If the earthball keeps its shape or breaks only with difficulty into solid sections rather than loose soil, it still contains too much water and it’s not ready for cultivation.
How to prepare soil for planting
If you want to properly prepare soil for planting, you have to focus on cultivating your soil. Pounding rain, snow, freezing and defrosting, gravity and other natural forces can cause soil to become compacted over time. It must be your priority to loosen it before planting anything. If you haven’t planted anything in the garden before then your first step is to get rid of the rubbish and dig out tired old shrubs and weeds, especially perennial weeds such as thistle, nettle, bindweed, ground elder and couch grass. Be sure to remove all parts of the roots, tap root and bits of brick bat. The method of cultivating the soil is known as simple digging. To do this, dig up a clod of soil with the shovel, turn it over and drop back into the same hole. Chop it up a bit and then repeat, working methodically across the bed. In established beds, you can use a broadfork to break up the soil. Garden soil should be well aerated to promote root growth and worm activity. The soil should be crumbly, not clumpy. After digging or tilling you need to further cultivate the soil with garden hoe and rakes. This will prime your garden soil for planting by helping it dry out and warm up, and permit roots to penetrate the soil more easily.
Improving the soil before planting
With the ground preparation complete, it’s time to improve the quality of the soil as well. In one of our previous articles Composting leads to a healthful ground we covered all about composting and you should consult it and learn how to make your own compost which is the best fertilizer by far. You can apply organic fertilizers to the degree that matches the needs of the crops you are planning to plant. You can learn more about organic fertilizers from our Organic fertilizers guide.
Light feeders with shallow roots, such as lettuce, will be fine with a small amount of organic fertilizer raked into the top few inches of soil. If you are planting widely spaced plants that have big nutrient appetites, such as cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers, you should enrich individual planting holes with a mixture of compost and organic fertilizer just before you set out seedlings. If you want to plant very heavy feeders, such as sweet corn, use a hoe to make deep trenches in the beds. Place the fertilizer in the trenches so it will be directly below the germinating seeds for best results.
If you read the article carefully, you now know how to prepare soil for planting in order to get the most out of your garden!