Everything you need to know about preparing the soil
In this section you’ll learn about everything there is to know about soil types, from building excellent garden soil, the pH levels to composting, and side-dressing. This is the key component to having a great garden and producing good crops.
Your blank garden canvas
Before you begin, remove all debris and rake the soil to a smooth finish.
All weeding should be done before the soil preparation begins.
Using a spirit level, seek out low spots as they need filling to avoid boggy areas. Remember to use sterile topsoil for this purpose, because you don’t want to allow soil-borne disease or pests.
After the initial levelling, you can use a tiller to work and aerate the soil.
The Troy built or Mantis tillers are recommended as they’re compact, easy to use, and help prevent back strain by doing the heavy work for you.
Use the tiller in stages, beginning the first week, for loosening the soil, then the second week, add fertilizers and till in again. Gradually the soil’s resistance begins to lessen as you till over and over again. On the third week, remove any large clods, stones and debris.
When you can feel a good earthy texture, then you’re ready to begin planting. If it’s still not right, go through the soil with the tiller another few times. Rake the area smooth, water lightly to dampen, and you can proceed to plant your crop.
Evaluating your soil
To check your type of soil simply pick up a handful and squeeze it lightly together. The texture tells all. Is it heavy and cold? Does it feel gritty or sandy? Now release the soil and check if it falls apart completely? Does it remain in a hard cold clump? This simple test will tell you what type of soil you are dealing with.
Generally, your soil should be slightly crumbly, and should hold together when lightly squeezed but falls apart easily. This is the top quality earth all gardeners dream of and work endlessly to achieve. Many people choose to toss bags of pre-mixed soils on top of the underlying soil hoping it will solve the problem, but it doesn’t.
Heavy clay soil is the nightmare of all gardeners. With its tough clogging nature, it compacts and chokes off roots. There are products such as Greensand or Gypsum, peat compost and garden sand available that can be worked into the clay soil to make it more usable.