Preparing Your Soil For Planting

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Wanna know the best piece of garden advice I’ve ever gotten? It took me a while to realise it but now we have experienced it first hand that if you feel the soil and not the plants. Your plants and your soil will thrive.

I now know that if you concentrate on building good soil, you will most certainly get rewarded with much better veggies.


Firstly, What is soil?

  Your soil isn’t some sticky goop that just happens to be outside. It’s actually a living breathing soil that needs to be cared for like any other form of ‘life’
Your soil is half rock and minerals that have broken down into tiny particles over thousands of years.  And half full of microbes and bacteria that breakdown organic materials like leaves, roots, composts.

They feed on the compost and create masses of tiny bacteria which then poop out. (Come on were parents, we can talk about poop right?)
It’s actually the poop that is broken down into a substance that plants can absorb.It acts like a plant food and feeds your plants, keeping them thriving. So microbe poop is literally plant gold.

 Find out how to care for those seedlings here when they’re ready to be planted

Need help to get started? Try these 12 steps to get you started here.

Is Preparing Your Soil important if your only growing in a tiny space.?

Yes. The smaller your space the more you will need to care for it. A small space is likely to be expected to produce a lot of crops but because its so small it can’t replenish the goodness its lost and you will quickly see your plants give up and you can’t grow anything.

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How Do You Prepare Your Soil For Vegetables

Adding organic matter in the form of compost and aged manure, or using mulch or growing cover crops (green manures), is the best way to prepare soil for planting. Adding chemical fertilizers will replenish only certain nutrients and do nothing for maintaining good soil structure.


So, What is The First Step In Preparing Your Soil?

Give the microbes in your soil air, food and water and it will reward you with fertile soil your plants will love.


Loosening of the soil helps in the growth of several soil microbes, earthworms etc, which enrich the soil with humus and other essential nutrients as well as gives you loose soil your plants will love.

Adding organic matter helps to feed the bacteria in your soil and in turn feeds your plants but it also adds bulk to your soil, opening the structure which helps it be less compacted which helps soil life and roots can easily move through the soil.

Water is also important to keep the soil structure moist for the soil life to thrive, and for the nutrients to stay in a state where plant roots can suck them up.Too much water can flood soil life and fill all the sir holes through the soil letting your plant roots sit in soggy

Learn how to prepare for the growing season


What type of soil is best for your vegetable garden?

There are many types of soil from sand, clay, and loam. But the best soil for vegetables includes lots of compost and organic matter such as composted leaves and ground or shredded, aged bark.


It doesnt matter what type of soil you start with, all you need to do is incorporate enough organic material like compost, or leaf mould etc so that the amended soil is neither sandy nor compacted.

How do you enrich soil for a vegetable garden?


I amend my soil throughout the year by using mulches of grass cuttings, straw and homemade compost but soil needs to be cared for.

Each year I like to use 3 different amendments:
– add our homemade leaf mould. (Leaves that have been gathered in autumn and left to rot down seperately from the compost) They turn into a low nutrient, loose material that open my soil and helps the soil life and roots. 

I use this 2 ways. Once in autumn to cover the soil for winter. The soil life breaks this down and digs it into the soil for me. Leaf mould is also fab for beds you plan to grow roots in. Those don’t like manure but they do like loose soil.

So adding sand or leaf mould helps here. I also use leaf mould through the year as a mulch around plants to keep the moisture in and the weeds down.


Preparing Your Soil. With Manure

In winter i take cow or horse manure and spread it around a spade depth over the beds that need it. Usually where the heavy feeders will be. Potatoes, pumpkins tomatoes etc. The worms and other.soil life feed on this and dig it in for me. Pooping out the goodness in a form my plants can absorb. Keeping the fertility high and allowing the soil to maintain a natural structure. Manure can be acidic, so in spring I add a substance called lime to anywhere I want to grow brassicas (broccoli, cabbage etc) To rebalanced the soil. Don’t add them both at the same time though.
Throughout the season I also like to apply a powdered or liquid feed.

Organic fertilizer mix

At planting time just to give the plants the boost they need. .Products like Blood, Fish and Bone, or Pelleted Chicken Manure give plants an extra boost of general nutrients. Blood fish and bone is great for the first 4 to 6 weeks after planting.

Chicken feed is a longer term feed. Scattered on the soil it starts to dissolve with watering or rain and slowly feels the plants.

These types or feed just help your plants. They are boost they amount of minerals and ‘extra poopness’ in the soil but the microbes in the soil aren’t benefitting from it so its not a way to keep your soil happy and thriving.

Plants grown on poor soil and raised on fertilisers will never be as good as those grown on happy soil.

Compost bins of any size are vital in a garden.


Our Biggest Tip For Preparing Your Soil ?

Start a compost bin.

In nature, leaves and dead plants fall to the floor, where soil life break them down into useable food in your soil. In our gardens, we clean up fallen leaves and we take take take from the soil, robbing our soil of its natural fertility.

But you can compost your weeds, leftovers, spend plants etc compost it and then return it to our garden to feed the next generation of microbes.

Check out our composting tips here you can also check out this project to make compost in a soda bottle with your kids

Keeping your own compost pile is one of the simpleset and most effective ways to care for your soil. These tips work whether you intend to grow in the ground, in a raised bed or on a pot.

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