Soil for Vegetable Gardens

Soil: blend it, buy it or transport it to your vegetable garden

Features of the perfect garden soil

  • Light, can easily move with your hand
  • Has air pockets and pores
  • Breaks apart easily into little pieces
  • Smells rich and earthy
  • Has lots of life in and on the soil: look for small insects and worms, these are all good signs

Features of Poor soil:

  • Stale or rotting smell
  • Tight, compacted structure
  • Contains few roots, insects or animal life
  • When broken apart, the soil is in large angular pieces or worse, flat plate-like structures
  • Poor soils can be waterlogged and do not drain well. The soil may be wet near the surface after rain, but can be dry lower down.

What to do about soil –

If you plan on getting the soil from your garden, choose an area that has never been gardened before. There is a good chance that your vegetables will grow well in their first year.  This is because of the large amount of nutrients and minerals that are available. The years that follow do not normally produce the same results if steps are not taken to enrich the soil. In vegetable growing you always get what you give, and sometimes even the birds get their share as well.

When it comes to vegetables, the most important part of your raised garden is the soil. If you are using the soil in your own garden it will be important to mix it with a few other amendments which will provide the ideal growing environment for your vegetables. If you decide to order a shipment of premixed garden soil you may also want to mix in a few amendments. If the quality is good from your supplier, purchasing and filling the raised bed may be all you need to think about for the first year.

New soil delivered:

When purchasing the soil, if I have the chance, I always go to the supplier and look and feel the soil that they will be delivering.  The simple act of smelling the soil can tell you a lot. If it doesn’t smell right, it probably isn’t right for you. This is your only sure way to know what you are getting.  The cost per yard of top quality garden bed soil can vary depending on where you live, as can delivery charges. At then end of the day if the product is of good quality it really can save a lot of time to just have the soil delivered to your door. It beats carrying the bags and trust me a 6′ x 4 ‘ bed uses a lot of bags of soil.

Your own soil blend

Spread out a tarp on the ground to mix your soil on, working between the tarp and the raised planter bed. Make sure that you make 50% of the soil mixture from your own garden soil. Once the soil is turned and any large clumps are broken up, you can enrich the soil with organic matter. Compost or organic matter should make up 25% of your garden mix, There really is no better material then a blend of decomposed wood, leaves and vegetation. I like to avoid the animal manure products for a number of reasons: it can burn the plants, weed seeds can be present, and the herbicides and pesticides the animal eats can contaminate the soil. You can purchase compost from good quality garden stores. I also like to add 25% peat moss for better water retention and root growth. It can be purchased at any garden store in compact bales, remember to really break it up before adding it to the soil mix.

How to add the soil:

I like to add the soil mixture to one of the corners first, gently patting the corner soil a little. I then fill the opposite corner and gently pack it in. Repeat for the other corners. This technique will help to keep the bed level while filling it with soil. Once the corners are in place I like to keep one of the top planks off and use it as a ramp for my wheelbarrow to make the dumping easier. Or, if the soil pile is right up against the raised bed I just shovel the soil into place. Watering lightly after every two wheelbarrow loads allows the soil to work its way into place. Once the majority of the soil is in the bed you can put in the last of the side wall boards and fill in the remainder of the bed with the soil using a shovel.

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2 Responses to Soil for Vegetable Gardens
  1. […] since my great grandpa built the garden! Good luck and happy gardening.Powered by Yahoo! AnswersSharon asks…raised garden bed helps?i just bought a house it has a nice sized garden (42ftx30ft) i…>raised garden bed helps?i just bought a house it has a nice sized garden (42ftx30ft) inside the […]

  2. […] since my great grandpa built the garden! Good luck and happy gardening.Powered by Yahoo! AnswersNancy asks…raised garden bed helps?i just bought a house it has a nice sized garden (42ftx30ft) in…raised garden bed helps?i just bought a house it has a nice sized garden (42ftx30ft) inside the […]