Garden Bed Preparation for Easier Spring Planting
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Garden Bed Preparation? Garden beds must be prepared before spring planting begins unless the soil is fertile with nutrients and has good drainage.
Most gardens need some preparation at the beginning of the planting season. The goal is to have loose soil so plant roots can push through easily. Digging and mixing in organic matter helps keep the soil loose, fluffy, and more manageable. Test the soil before planting to see if lime or sulfur is needed. If so, mix it in and distribute it evenly when working in the organic matter.
Garden Bed Preparation
Before beginning to work the soil, do a quick test. Scoop up a handful of soil and squeeze it in hand. If the soil forms a clump and sticks together when poked slightly, it’s too wet to begin working. Starting too early in the season can break down soil structure and cause compaction. The soil must not be half-frozen or wet.
On the other hand, if the soil crumbles when it’s poked, it’s time to start digging. Very powdery, dry soil needs some moisture. Run a sprinkler to wet the top inch or two and wait a few hours before digging or tilling.
Adding organic matter increases the water-holding quality of sandy soils and improves drainage in clay soils. Furthermore, it feeds the beneficial soil organisms that make nutrients available to plants and the soil healthy for roots. Some excellent sources of organic matter are compost and animal manures. Working them in the earth creates air spaces in the soil and attracts and holds water and nutrients where plant roots can reach them. If organic matter is needed, work in up to 4 inches per square foot of the material while digging.
Digging the Garden Bed
If grass and weeds exist in the area planned for gardening, the top layer of roots and grass must be dug up:
- Remove the sod with a spade or shovel by skimming off the roots and grass
- Along the length of the bed, remove the top foot of the soil from a 2-foot wide trench and place on a tarp for using later
- Add amendment to the trench and loosen the soil with a spading fork.
- Fill the trench with soil that is dug from the next trench
- Continue in this manner until the bed is completely dug
- Fill the last trench dug with the soil that was saved on the tarp
Maintenance of Good Soil
Maintain the garden bed by feeding annually with topdressings of organic matter. Scratch the ground slightly when adding compost and fertilizers without disturbing the roots. If this is done annually, it will maintain good soil structure and help ensure even distribution of the applied fertilizers.
Gardening is a fun hobby for many people. Preparing the soil, at the beginning of the season, will produce a garden bed that flourishes throughout the growing season. The gardener will be the envy of the neighborhood for the colorful flowers and delicious vegetables that required a little work. The following year, the established garden will be less labor-intensive.