Thursday, April 5, 2012

How to Turn Poor Soil into Great Growing Soil

For the most part soil in it's nateral state is not in perfect condition for growing a vegetable garden. It could be sandy or mostly clay, or may other options, but most of the time one thing can be sure- it is lacking in organic matter. The best way to improve your soil is to add organic matter, a lot of it, and often. We try to add organic matter to our soil about twice a year. Fall when we put the garden to bed, we turn in ground up leaves- then in the spring I like to add some sort of manure- like Turkey or steer. But the more decomposed the better for immediate use for the plants. Then we also add a mulch to the top of the soil after the garden is in, and the soil is warmed up. That gets turned in with the fall leaves.
If you just starting your garden- then you might need even more organic matter than you would add annually, but after you initially mix your soil for the first time, you should just keep adding to it every year, and if you keep at it, you will have very fertile soil before long.

If you add compost or leaves or anything that still needs to break down, you should add some nitrogen to it to help that process, otherwise it will steal those nutrients from the plants or soil to help it break down. If you plan on having an organic garden, then there are plenty of organic options, just visit your local garden center for help on choosing an organic fertilizer.
Although adding organic matter to your soil every year, will make a big difference to your garden, you will still need to feed your plants fertilizer. Like I mentioned earlier, there are some great options on organic fertilizer (which is best for vegetable gardens).  Here is an idea for an easy way to fertilize your plants:
When planting, dig a big hole for an old milk jug with holes in the bottom and one side and bury it so that the top is still exposed. Then plant the plant next to it. Then when you water or fertilize, you have an easy way for the fertilizer to get down to the roots right where you want them to be.
I will also for most of my vegetables that like to be fertilized, as I am planting them, add a handful of fertilizer a little bit deeper and slightly off to the side of the plant, so that as the roots get established, they will reach this supply and have a boost in a critical time of their growth.
You might also want to consider your soil's pH. A pH of 7 is neutral and over 7 is alkaline and under 7 is acidic. There are many plants that prefer acidic soil such as blueberries. So when planting a garden for the first time, check to see what your soil balance is and plant accordingly. The soil in my area is alkaline and so I choose not to grow blueberries, as it is too much work to supplement them with enough acidic matter to produce a good crop. You can get your soil tested by a local agricultural university for around $15. Or you can ask an expert gardener at a local garden center what is the normal for the area.
Visit our website for vegetable guides and a garden planner that will help you grow a successful garden. Now let's pull out those gloves and get to work!
Happy Gardening!

2 comments:

Sir Shawn said...

Hi! What's your opinion on what does your average reader look like?

Julie Brown said...

Shawn,

Our aim is those new to gardening, wanting to get started gardeing, or those just wanting some ideas. I want to help the movement in getting people to grow thier own food. I know that my reader base is very versitile in age, and location. In my opinion anyone can learn to grow a veggie garden.

Thanks, Julie