Soil Prep

April, 2018

Did you prep your soil last fall? No worries, you can still grow stunning flowers and nutritious vegetables by creating a healthy foundation, and a healthy foundation starts with healthy soil.

Good soil consists of:

• Humus — decomposed leaves and plant materials allow soil to hold water and drain well.
• Air — the ideal soil is composed of about 25% air.
• Minerals — nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are some of the minerals needed for plant growth.
• Living organisms —worms, bugs and bacteria alike help to maintain the soil health.

Before you start prepping, make sure your soil is dry. Grab a handful of soil and squeeze, it should fall apart. If the soil forms a mud ball, wait and try again. Digging into your soil too early can damage the soil's structure.

Once your soil is dry, get it tested. You can get a test through your local United States Department of Agriculture office or most gardening stores. They will be able to tell you more about your soil's pH levels and your nutrient values. These test results will help you to figure out what your soil is lacking.

With an understanding of your soil's composition, you're ready to prep. Remove anything that's already living from your planting area. This may require some elbow grease and a sod cutter. Remove things like plants, grass, large rocks and roots.

Once the area is cleared, you can add organic matter like compost or humus blend. The magic ratio is 1:1, meaning that your topsoil layer should be approximately half organic matter and half native topsoil. Blend your organic matter into native soil with a shovel, hoe or rototiller.

Lastly, fertilize your soil. Add any recommendations from your soil test, so that your plants will have a healthy foundation to bloom. You may also want to add a slow release fertilizer jump-start the break down process of your organic matter and ensure long term soil health.

Happy planting!