Thursday, February 23, 2012

Preparing your garden soil for spring planting

I hope you were inspired in your gardening by Alycia's post!  There really are so many creative ways to garden, and she referenced several in her post.  No matter how tiny your space, you can produce your own food.  If you've never gardened, start small.  As your skill level and confidence grows, you can add on and grow more year by year.  It really is so rewarding to grow your own food!

As a follow-up to that post, I wanted to talk briefly about preparing your soil for your first spring planting.  Healthy soil is crucial to healthy, thriving crops.  Your soil becomes depleted as your crops grow.  Last season's soil alone will not be enough to produce quality crops this year.  You need to amend the "used" soil by adding nutrients back in. 

I like The Square Foot Gardener's simple method.  Prior to planting seeds or seedlings, turn over the soil and add a trowel full or so (per 1 sq. foot area) of compost, humus or manure.  Remember to do this prior to every planting.  Perhaps you will only be planting one crop this year--if so, amend your soil prior to planting your new spring crop.  But if you're like me and any one given area could end up with three crops by the end of the growing season (like lettuce, then beets, then escarole), you need to remember to amend your soil prior to each planting.  This keeps your soil nourished.  Nourished soil means nourished plants.

Additionally, rotating your crops (not growing crops in the same place each year) helps keep your soil balanced and healthy and helps prevent diseases.  So if you were planning on popping those pepper plants back into the same spot in your garden (or the same pot as last year), think again!  Move them to a different spot and grow a different crop in its place.  

Now, if you are looking to build a garden for the first time this year, you have a bit of work cut out for you in order to prepare healthy soil.  I will share that with you in tomorrow's post!

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