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You are likely ready to get started with the seeds and other starter plants. I get it; it’s exciting. Growing your own green beans or tomatoes can be thrilling. However, don’t let your excitement get in the way of your common sense. Before you think about planting anything, make sure you have your garden soil ready.

Why prepare your garden soil prior to planting?

Start with healthy soil that is rich in nutrients if you want to maximize your garden’s potential yield. Check that the soil is not compacted or retains moisture. It also needs to be pH balanced and rich in minerals. You could have a poorly performing garden or even a failure.


Before you do any other work, be sure to remove any weeds from your future garden bed. You should eliminate these weeds with extreme prejudice as they could be competitors to your limited garden resources.

It’s likely that you will be dealing with many weeds or even grass if this is your first garden. To eliminate them, turn the soil over using a shovel. If you do this quickly enough, the weeds will eventually die and your soil will be rich in nutrients.

Assess the soil and treat it

You will need to be able to identify the needs of your soil before you can prepare it. A little bit of testing is required to determine what your soil needs. There are two options for soil testing. You can also purchase a soil test kit at your local hardware shop. Both options provide information about pH, nitrogen and phosphorous levels.

Whatever option you choose, be sure to follow the instructions in the test results when you modify your soil. You can amend your soil if you discover that it has a nitrogen deficit by either adding a high-quality chemical fertilizer or composted horse manure.

You should also take into account drainage and water retention when amending or testing your soil. You want to have a balanced mixture of clay, loam and sand. A garden that has too much of either one of these can negatively affect its ability to retain water. Too much sand, for example, will cause the water to drain too quickly. Too much clay, on the other hand, will prevent enough drainage.

Mix the soil with a fork.

It’s time for you to start turning the soil once your garden is free from weeds. A rototiller is a great option if you are lucky enough to have one. But hand-turning a small garden can be tedious. You’ll need to break up the dirt and thoroughly combine it. This will allow the soil to loosen and the nutrients you have added in during the previous step will be incorporated.

Once the soil has been thoroughly mixed, rake it up and call it good. Now we are ready to plant!

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