Do you want to get the most out of your garden beds this approaching spring? You can if you know the secret to effective gardening! What can that be? A good groundwork in making your soil right for planting! So, how do you go about getting your garden soil right for the year’s first crops? Following is a spring to do list that will enlighten you on the right way of going about your task.
Garden beds can be of three types
- Garden beds that are to be freshly developed
- Beds that have seen the growth of crops earlier but are now empty
- Beds which have perennials, shrubs or bulbs growing on them
The procedure to be adopted for each of them is detailed below:
Developing Fresh Garden Beds
The first task will be to ensure that there are no utility or irrigation lines running through your property from your local government cell. Outline the shape of your garden bed before the onset of spring. Do it with the help of a garden hose, changing its position till you get it right. Next, get down to destroying any vegetation if it exists by using a saw or pruners.
Begin your task in the fall period
- Cover the soil and vegetation with a good many layers of newspapers with regular ink print
- Lay a 3 inch compost material on it
- Vegetation is killed due to the sunlight blockage
- Nicely developed compost layer is good for the soil
Next step is to start turning the bed over with your spade and shovel. Ensure that you are working on soil that is moist but not wet. This alone will enable you to get the most out of your working. Double digging the soil to a depth of about 18 inches will go a long way in preparing your garden soil in an optimum fashion. Weed seeds that were earlier not visible will be highlighted. In order to prevent them from germinating, you need to use synthetic merchandise to kill it.
Alternatively, you can spread organic mulch of bark or pine needles thickly over your proposed garden bed. However, weed and feed merchandise will necessitate you to use pot grown plants for installing in your garden bed.
When you are through with your planting, spreading compost layer on your soil-top is necessary. This will prevent the growth of weeds; retain the soil moisture besides giving a neat appearance to your garden bed.
Preparing Existing Beds with No Vegetation
Here, you will be replanting into a garden bed that has no vegetation in it. You can therefore, skip the first step of layering the bed with newspapers for destroying the existing vegetation. However, you need to keep enriching your soil by adding organic matter at regular intervals. You turn the moist soil and then add a layer of compost into it. Double digging along with inclusion of organic matter is highly recommended. Additionally, mulch can be used to cover your soil-top to prevent weed growth and make it richer.
Preparing Existing Beds with Vegetation
The third kind is garden beds which have some sort of vegetation in it. You have to be extra careful while turning in the compost on these areas. The roots of existing plants should not be harmed in any way. The compost mixture can be put in small amounts around the prevailing plants and can be spread on the soil-top. Ensure that it does not touch the plant stems. Areas which are left open for planting annuals can be enriched by incorporating compost before planting.
How to Evaluate Soil’s Moisture Content
- Pick a lump and crush it. If water is squeezed out then it is wet.
- If it can’t be crushed into a ball then it is too dry.
- If it shapes up into a ball and falls apart on tapping then it is said to be perfect.
Dry soil will prevent work to be done while wet soil will lead to clumping. Moist soil ensures optimum soil structure and air porosity.
How to Determine Soil Structure
- Sandy Soil: Doesn’t retain water
- Clay Soil: Too hard to be broken down
- Healthy Soil: Crumbly and friable
Clay and sandy soil can be tackled by incorporating lots of enriched organic matter or compost into it. Microbial activity will be enhanced and earthworms who are supposed to be besties of gardeners will start flourishing.
Follow the above spring to do list and you will be on your way to getting an excellent garden bed prepared for your spring planting.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
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