Preparing Your Garden Soil
We get asked questions about garden soil all the time, so we thought we would offer a few tips and a little advice on how to best prepare your spring garden soil.
The first thing to do, is to clear the garden bed of any sticks or debris that may have accumulated there over the winter. My Grandfather always used to rake through the top few inches to remove any rocks or hard chunks of dirt that could damage tender seedlings, then he would turn the dirt with a shovel and rake again. Now he would do this a couple of times, but even if you do it once, it should be fine. If you are planting more root crops (beets, carrots, radishes, etc.) then you will want to make sure the soil is loose to about a foot deep so they can grow downward with ease.
You'll want your soil to be nutrient-rich and well-drained. We always start by adding compost, compost and compost! We can't say enough good things about it! If you are lucky enough to have your own compost pile...hurray! If you don't, you can either purchase it from a local gardening center, or check to see if you town has a composting center. Many towns will collect green-waste and offer their residents free or low-cost compost. This can be a great source, especially if you need a lot. Don't add the compost on the day you're going to plant. Mix it in well with your existing dirt by turning it over with a shovel, and let it sit for 2-3 weeks before planting to give it time to balance out your soil.
If you have soil that doesn't hold moisture very well, then add some peat moss (but this should not make up more than a third of your soil). This is available at any garden center, and will hold the water in for your plants instead of letting it run right through the dirt.
We add in an organic fertilizer (3-3-3) to our soil as well, usually a day or two before planting. Your new plants will need this to get plush and green. Some of the organic fertilizers have micro-nutrients that commercial fertilizers might not have.
If you have done all this, your plants will have rich, healthy dirt to give them a great start