Quality Tomatoes Soil Preparation Makes The Difference For When Should I Plant Tomatoes

The goal is for the soil to be in the best shape, so no matter if you are planting tomatoes from seeds, or in transplanting nursery grown plants, the adjustment period for the new seeds to germinate and the roots to take hold is minimal. For successful tomatoes, soil preparation is the first step. Two tomato gardening tips come to mind to help the plants grow and to plan when should I plant tomatoes based onsoil conditions. You will have to find a good balance between the two. One tomato growing tip is about cultivation and the other tip is about the weather.

Your Tomatoes: Soil Preparation and Cultivation Tips

The soil must be turned over and worked down to a nice manageable consistency. You can do this with a tiller, going back and forth five or six times or for smaller gardens old fashioned shoveling will do. If you use the shovel you need to turn it over a couple times until all the clumps are gone and then hack at it with shovels, hoes and rakes until you get it looking good. A raised bed is a great plan for tomatoes as the soil stays looser and is easier to deal with in the spring.

Yes, adding fertilizer at this point is also a good thing, Tomatoes like manure, and you can buy bags of composted manure to work into the soil. One thing to know about when I should plant tomatoes is to wait a day between adding any organic fertilizer to the soil and planting your seeds or plants.

Your Tomatoes: Soil Preparation and The Weather

Even when your soil is primed and ready to go the weather affect the condition of your soil and it will by default affect when I should plant tomatoes. It does not matter if you are growing tomatoes from seed or transplanting from a nursery pack, any soil that is too wet or too dry will not serve you well. If it is too dry the seeds will not germinate or the roots will not take to the soil. If it is too wet the both the seeds and roots will rot. One of the tomato gardening problems either way, is that thedirt gets all hard and sometimes clumpy again, so you will have to use you hoe.

At this point in planting tomatoes, soil preparation is more waiting game. For dry soil you need to run the sprinkler for several hours and wait for it to seep in, possible the next day before planting, and then keep it moist until the next rain. For wet soil due to rain, you wait until it dries out enough before planting your tomatoes.

Finding a good blend with these two issues for your tomatoes soil preparation will help you get your plant off to a good start on the road to the best, plump, juicy tomatoes for your salads and sandwiches all summer.

From the day you first take theshovel to theground, through harvesting, everyone can use some extra help and advice with some expert tomato gardening tips and advice.

Click to Find out Secrets to Growing Incredible Tomatoes

Look for some free guides and other valuable information to help you grow some nice, juicy, tasty tomatoes!

Your Tomatoes Soil Preparation

Pointers to Selecting the Right Soil

“The earth is the mother of us all – plants, animals and men. The phosphorus and calcium of the earth build our skeletons and nervous systems. Everything else our bodies need except air and sun comes from the earth.” -Henry A. Wallace, in the Foreword to “Soils and Men,” the 1938 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Without soils, no life could exist on earth. The lowly bacterial cell and the massive pachyderm both owe their being to this basic stuff of life. A bird in flight, a mole burrowing beneath your lawn, borers eating blindly into the heart of a great oak – all are linked by their common dependency on the elements of existence they draw from the soil.

Of earth’s living creatures, man alone modifies the land to better suit his ends. Not satisfied with soil as he finds it, he tears its surface, incorporates organic and mineral materials and alters age-old structures. He often keys his actions to two false but widely held ideas: 1, that soils are simply clay and decaying vegetable matter – a mechanical support for plants – and 2, that the easy-digging quality of the soil means more than its chemical-biological quality. The error of this overall viewpoint was thrown into sharp focus not so many years ago by the controversy concerning the use of synthetic chemical soil conditioners. These products often made soil easier to till but with no resulting improvement in quality of plant growth. The “organocultists”, those who believe only in organic gardening, have much to say about all this.

Tips on Types

Soil type is important. Type is determined largely by texture, a word often used in the wrong sense. It means simply particle size, such as fine sand, gravel, silt, clay, and so on.

Particle sizes in soils range something like this (mm = millimeter; 25 millimeters equal one inch):

Mineral elements:
Clay – 002 mm or smaller
Silt – 002 mm to .05 mm
Fine sand – 05 mm to .25 mm
Sand – 25 mm to 1.0 mm
Gravel – 1.0 mm to 32 mm
Stones – over 32 mm

Organic matter in soils may range in size from as large as entire plants that have been dug under to as small as humus particles so fine that they form colloidal solutions. (In a colloidal solution the minute particles do not settle out, but float indefinitely.)

Based on the preceding information, here is a soil classification according to particle size:

Stony loams: soils containing more than 50 per cent stones over 1 inch in diameter. If remainder is sufficiently fertile, this soil type may have gardening value, although it will be hard to work.

Gravels: soils with over 50 per cent gravel and much sand. Practically no garden value.

Sands: soils with more than 75 per cent sand. Low garden value.

Fine sandy loams: soils with 50 to 75 per cent fine sand mixed with much silt and some clay. Fairly good garden soils.

Sandy loams: soils with 50 to 75 per cent sand and much silt, some clay. Among the better light garden soils.

Loams: soils with 35 to 50 per cent sand mixed with much silt and some clay. Most of the better garden soils fall in this class.

Silt loams: soils with more than 50 per cent silt and less than 15 per cent clay. Are too “tight” to be good soils without some modification.

Clay loams: soils with 15 to 25 per cent clay, much silt and little sand. Usually are good garden soils if not worked when wet.

Clays: soils with more than 25 per cent clay, usually with much silt. Can be good if handled properly.

Mucks: soils with 15 to 25 per cent partially decomposed organic matter with much clay and silt. Good for certain crops, but modification is usually needed for general garden use.

Peaty loams: soils with 15 to 35 per cent organic matter mixed with much sand and some silt and clay. If acid, are good for broadleaved evergreens.

Peats: soils with 35 per cent or more organic matter, mixed with some sand, silt and clay. Need more mineral matter to be suitable for garden use.

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Keep Your Soil Healthy Use Natural Organic Fertiliser

The soil is the most important component of gardening. This is why it is important to know how to look after your soil when planning to put up your own organic garden at home. The better the quality of the soil, the more likely that you will be successful in growing organic fruits and vegetables, which is why it is recommended that you use natural organic fertiliser like fish fertiliser and seaweed fertiliser.

Guaranteeing the good condition of the soil is not complicated at all. You just have to remember some simple guidelines and you can be sure that your soil will always be in the best shape for growing plants. The first thing to keep in mind is to avoid stepping on the soil on which you are planning to plant or have already planted seeds. You might think it is harmless to the soil, but stepping on it actually stresses it, which in turn may cause it to impede the growth of the plants. You should remember that as much as possible, you should walk around the planted area to avoid damaging it and harming the planted seed. Also, ask you relatives and friends who visit your organic garden to not step on the planted areas.

Another way of looking after your soil is to be careful when digging. While it is an essential step in gardening, digging need not be done in such a stressful and nearly destructive way. Be cautious as you dig the soil, especially when there is already a seed planted in the area next to where you are digging. Make sure that you do not dig too deep or too shallow in order for the plants to grow perfectly. Also, do not dig or step on the soil when it is wet as it needs to drain properly to ensure the better growth of plants.

As mentioned earlier, using a natural organic fertiliser is also one way of ensuring that your soil will be as healthy as can be. Organic seaweed fertiliser and all natural fish fertiliser can be bought from specialty gardening shops. Check the instructions in using such fertilisers and follow them carefully. Never put an excess amount of fertilizer in your soil, even if it is organic, because it will surely have an effect on the growth of the plants. Possible negative effects might manifest on the grown plants if you put too much organic fertiliser in the soil.

Sunlight is needed by growing plans in making food or photosynthesis. Despite this, the soil does not need to be too exposed to the sun’s rays. It is advisable to protect the soil from the harmful heat of the sun as well as from excessive rain as these may harm the soil, with the latter making it prone to erosion.

It is really easy to learn the simple ways on how to look after your soil; most of these only need common sense and determination. Employ the said methods in order to have a wonderful organic garden. So the next time you plant a fruit or vegetable, be mindful of your actions, especially those that involve touching the soil. Never abuse it; instead, keep it well nourished for the benefit of the growing plants. Don’t forget to allocate part of your budget for the purchase of natural organic fertiliser, and make it a point to only buy high quality fish fertiliser or seaweed fertiliser from your trusted vendors.

Are you looking for more information regarding fish fertiliser ?  Visit www.ajproducts.com.au today!

Soil Preparation For a Productive Garden Best Practices

Soil preparation is step one in getting your garden ready for cultivation and if possible should be done in the fall. This will give the soil time over the winter to enrich itself after you have dressed and tilled it. Excellent results can still be achieved if this timetable is not feasible, so this timing is not absolutely critical.

If your garden plot is fairly large, it would be advisable to rent or borrow a rotary tiller if you do not own one. Loosen the soil thoroughly and pick out the sticks, stones, rocks and any other debris. Remove any existing sod and vegetation, shake out the dirt and place the waste sod or vegetation into your compost pile. You do not have a compost pile? Give thought to building or buying one. You will be doing you and your garden a huge favor.

This is also an excellent time to test your soil for its PH value. Vegetables normally do well in a slightly acidic soil condition. Check with your local extension service for more advice on this subject. Soil testing kits which are readily available and are quite inexpensive will give excellent results. Mulch with a dusting of lime or fertilizer, 2 or 3 in. of manure, and any organic materials such as leaves, peat moss, straw, hay, grass clippings etc. and till in to a depth of 8 to 10 inches The decomposition of these organic materials over the winter, will add valuable nutrients to your garden. After this is done, plant with a cover crop of something like hairy vetch or winter rye which will create an environmentally friendly green manure as well as discourage weed growth and erosion.

Now you have all winter to read the seed catalogs and look forward to spring.

In spring as soon as it is dry enough, mow the cover crop and till it in to a depth 6 to 8 inches. Retest the soil for the soil PH values because some leeching may occur over the winter; and the PH level may have to be adjusted.

Try not to till your soil when it is too wet. If the soil is sticking to the tiller or any other tools it is too wet to work. A shiny surface on the turned earth is another indication of a dangerously wet soil condition. Why is this important? When the soil dries it will create hard rock-like clumps, which are extremely difficult to return to a friable state and to work into good loam.

A word of caution, do not over till the soil because it will become too fine and will not hold oxygen, water or nutrients. If the soil does become overworked, more organic material will have to be worked into it. You are now just about ready to plant. Rake the plot to even the surface and work in some fertilizer or compost shortly before you seed or set plants.

Dick Murray is a retired urbanite who keeps his passion for gardening alive with pots of herbs on the window sills and the creation of
web site dedicated to vegetable gardening
basics. It is not the same as digging in the soil, but it works for him.

A Successful Spring Garden Begins With Healthy Soil

As winter turns to spring, gardening enthusiasts inevitably have high hopes for their spring and summer gardens. Weekend gardeners jam local nurseries and select their favorite flower and vegetable plants. Yet many of those gardeners will be disappointed with their crop because they fail to undertake the very first step necessary for a successful garden–preparing healthy soil for seeds, plants and trees.

            Creating healthy soil in which to grow your garden is the most important step in the gardening process. The key is to add compost before planting begins or when replanting existing gardening beds, lawns, dividing perennials or repotting container plants. Compost is created from decaying plants. Under the right temperature and moisture conditions, microorganisms transform the material into loose, well draining, nutrient-rich compost that is at the core of what makes plants flourish.

            There are primarily two types of soil–sandy and clay. Sandy soil contains large particles and will not hold together easily even when wet. While it quickly drains, it does not readily hold water or nutrients necessary for plants. Clay soil is dense and sticky when wet. Although it drains poorly, it holds in nutrients and water. Adding compost to either type of soil solves problems associated with each. The decaying materials found in compost allow air and water to travel through the soil to reach plant roots. The microorganisms in the compost naturally reinvigorate and enrich the soil. Gardeners should mix in an average of two to three inches of compost into the soil. The best compost is dark, rich and earthy-smelling. It should fall apart in your hands.

            While compost helps plants grow from the roots up, mulch helps plants grow by being placed on the surface of the soil. Mulch is typically made of various types of wood bark. Add a two to three inch layer of mulch around plants and trees (making sure not to touch the plants with the mulch). Mulch reduces erosion, water evaporation, moderates soil temperature and restricts weed growth. Organic mulches eventually break down, mix with the soil and nourish the plants. Mulch your garden areas at least twice a year–in spring and fall.

            Taking care of the soil reaps even larger benefits than a successful garden. “Healthy soil literally means life. We take soil for granted, but without it, we can’t grow the food we rely on to survive. Healthy soil enables plants and trees to grow that in turn help clean the air we breathe. By using compost made from recycled green materials, we are keeping green waste out of landfills and reducing the greenhouse gases this waste produces. Every garden we plant this spring can have a positive impact on our planet.

Bill Camarillo is CEO of Agromin, an Oxnard, California-based manufacturer of premium soil products and the green materials recycler for communities throughout Southern California. Each month, Agromin receives and processes thousands of tons of urban wood and green waste. Agromin then uses a safe, organic and scientific system to formulate its soil products from the processed recycled green materials. www.agromin.com.

Container Gardening Secrets of the soil

You will probably hear gardeners talking about sandy soil or clay soil when deciding what sort of soil your plants will do best in. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different soils and what is the difference? Although it can sound quite complicated, it is rather simple and once you understand the basics, you can make and alter the soil for your containers to suit the plants you are growing. It is just like following the recipe for a cake mix but easier, you do not have to cook it!

All soil is made up of broken up rocks and decaying animal and vegetable matter, called humus or compost. Over millions of years the surface rock of the planet has crumbled and become worn down due to the actions of wind, water, heat and cold. Most of this hard rock has worn down to form sand.


The sea beds under our seas and seashores around our coasts are great masses of pure sand. If our soil was just sand it would be very unproductive, just think of the large deserts where hardly anything grows. It is thanks to the millions of life forms both big and very small that die and decay over the years, that the soil becomes rich in food that enable plants to grow and flourish.

So, when we speak of sandy soil, we are talking more of the sand as a sort of filler, mixed with the humus or compost of decaying matter which often includes animal waste as well. This is why gardeners prize well rotted horse manure so much and dig it in to their soil, to enrich it. The sand helps to stop the soil become compacted and allows air and water to flow through the soil, which is needed by the plants and the myriad of small insects and micro-organisms that call it home.


These are small particles of worn down quartz and feldspar rocks that are bigger than sand but heavier than clay in water. Think of rock dust.



Another type of worn down stone, is found in lime soil. This soil is formed from worn down particles of limestone, which in turn is made up of the skeletons, shells and houses, like those of snails and crabs, that have lived and died over millions of years. These creatures picked lime particles from the water they lived in to form their shells as protection from larger creatures. You can still see this happening in coral reefs. When they die, their hard skeletons remain in layers on the river and sea beds and then over time these great masses of shells have been crushed and pressed by geological events to give us limestone.

Some of the old shells can still be seen in the limestone. Marble is another crystalline form of this special sort of rock, as is chalk. A way to test if a rock is limestone is to drop on it a little acid, such as household vinegar. This will react with the lime and cause it to bubble. This is why it can be used to balance soil that is to acidic


Now when a rock is worn by the elements, this is called “mechanical” action but there is another type of soil called clay. This is formed when a heated rock is attacked by a natural gas called carbonic acid, a form of carbon dioxide that all living things breathe out. This is not a mechanical action or wearing away of the rock but a chemical action where the rock is eaten away. Sand and silt are just a large rocks worn down into smaller pieces, like breaking up a sugar cube. It remains the same stuff it started out as but has just becomes smaller. Clay is the result of a chemical change, you start off with one sort of rock, but end up with something different. Clay soils are sometimes also refereed to as mud soils because of the water they contain. Compacted clay becomes waterproof and was used to line village ponds.



Peat is not rock based but is a form of compost or humus. It forms in marshy areas where the rotting plant material is slowed down from rotting fully by the acidic conditions. Have you ever seen the contents of a compost bin that gets to wet? When you have to add paper or straw to balance it? The peat bogs grow very slowly at the rate of about a millimetre per year. Some of the peat that is sold in garden centre has taken 9000 years, from the last Ice age, to form. This is why many people are campaigning for the peat bogs preservation and asking gardeners and farmers to use peat substitutes. This tends to be acidic and is added to the mix for those acid loving plants or to neutralise soil that has to much limestone.


Lastly and most importantly we have Loam. Loamy soil is a mixture of the other soils that is regarded as the best sort of soil for growing in. It is roughly in the proportion of 2 of sand to 2 of silt to 1 of clay, with lots of natural humus. Loams feel gritty, moist, and retain water easily and allow air circulation when not compacted. This is the holy grail of gardening and if this occurs naturally in your garden you are blessed. Within reason, the more organic matter you can add to it the better it will be.

The search for excellence

Fortunately, now that you know the basic secrets of the soil you can alter and mix these different components to make the right balance for you containers and planters to suit the needs of your plants. By mixing sand/silt with clay and adding compost from your compost bin or from your wormery and then balancing it with limestone or using peat (or peat substitute) to make it slightly acid. This is why I said it is just like mixing a cake recipe, and many gardeners do in fact have their favourite recipes for making “soil”.

The old cottage gardeners would judge the finished mixed soil or loam, by its wetness and its rich dark colour. When you squeeze a handful of loam, the soil will tend to stick together but not be strongly bonded. When you open your hand you will see that it is slightly stained. Then you know you have the perfect growing medium for your containers.

To find out more about the secrets of container gardening and “recipes for mixing your own container soil visit “Container Garden Secrets” and download your free ebook. Davey Greenjack is an Artist and Gardener living in South West England.

Preparing Herb Garden Soil Sowing the Seeds For Richer Herbs

Herbs are happy-go-lucky plants that are extremely accommodating with their basic needs. However, treating it right will yield amazing rewards. Preparing the best soil for growing herbs is one such step in the right direction.

Understanding Garden Soil Basics

Garden soil is made up of substances such as clay, sand, loam, silt, and peat in varying proportions. It consists of 50 percent solids, which is a combination of organic and inorganic matter. Inorganic matter comprises of clay, silt, and sand, a ratio of 20:40:40 of which is considered the ideal soil for an herb garden. Organic matter is decaying material like sawdust, hay, and cover crops used to enrich the soil.

Testing your Native Garden Soil

Reworking your garden soil before new plantings is the best way to grow healthy herbs. Testing the soil for pH (acid-alkaline) balance, concentrations of clay, sand, and silt will help determine the right organic matter to use to improve the soil. Ribbon test involves taking little bit of soil and rolling it back and forth in your hands. Soil that sticks together indicates high level of clay. On the other hand, if it disintegrates easily the soil probably has lots of sand.

Fine-Tuning the Herb Garden Soil

Clay soil does not drain well while sandy soil does not retain the required amount of nutrients. Adding compost solves both the problems of drainage and nutrients. High level of pH indicating most alkaline or sweet is the preferred level for herbs. pH levels can be raised by adding ground dolomitic limestone, which is harmless to the plants. Ammonium sulphate can be used to lower the pH balance.

Magic Potions

Humus is priceless constituent of the soil formed by the decomposition of animal or vegetable matter. Compost is a mix of decaying organic matter of leaves and manure. Both are used to enhance the nutrients in the soil. Mulch is an attractive protective covering of leaves and straws around the plants to avert any incidence of moisture evaporation, weeds, and freezing roots.

Preparing herb garden soil is a significant step in ensuring the healthy growth of herbs to enrich your lives in the process.

Adam Johnsen is an herb enthusiast and a lover of growing herbs for years. Over the time, he has found out that one of the most beautiful aspects of nature is that everything in the nature has it’s use. He has realized the many benefits of growing natural and organic herbs, so he would like to share with you free of charge, one of the best information in the world on herb gardening

Feel free to browse for information about herb gardening and on how to grow herbs in your home and garden. For more great tips on Home herb garden, visit http://www.herbgardeningtoday.com.

Using Grow Lights for Indoor Soil and Hydroponic Gardening

The use of grow lights for indoor and hydroponic gardens will be of major importance for growing healthy plants.  Plants require the energy from light in order to convert carbon dioxide into organic compounds via photosynthesis. Indoor soil gardening and hydroponic gardening need this light produced by grow lights.  Nowadays the most widely used grow lights for indoor and hydroponic gardens are high-pressure sodium (HPS/SON) and/or metal halide (MH) lamps.  The lights from these HPS/SON or MH lamps are generally directed at your indoor or hydroponically grown plants by the use of reflectors.  In this way, light is produced for your indoor garden in the most efficient manner.

Many types of grow lights are available for indoor soil gardening and/or hydroponic gardening:
Incandescent lights are typically used to highlight indoor plants and are not “true” grow lights.

Fluorescent grow lights are useful in growing vegetables such as leaf lettuce, spinach and herbs or for getting a jump on planting season by growing seedlings using this lighting.  High output fluorescent lights produce much more light than a standard fluorescent lamp.  Compact fluorescent lamps are available.  These are smaller and are used both for propagation and for growing larger plants.

High-pressure Sodium Lamps tend to produce plants that are taller and have longer stem growth. Generally, they are used as secondary lighting in greenhouses where plants get their main source of lighting from the sun rather than grow lights.  Plants grown with this type of lighting tend to look pale and washed out but, even so, the plants are generally healthy.

Combination high-pressure sodium and metal halide grow lights come in dual reflector systems.  Manufacturers say these lights produce an ideal spectral blend and high outputs.  In reality, this type of lighting is a compromise.  The lamps use two smaller lights rather than one larger light, therefore, the distance the light penetrates is shorter.

Switchable, two-way and convertible lamps can burn either a metal halide bulb or an equivalent high-pressure sodium blue in the same fixture.  However, these bulbs must be switched out and cannot be burned at the same time.   First plants are grown under the metal halide light for propagating and for vegetative growth.  For the fruiting and flowering stages, the switch must be made to the high-pressure sodium bulb.

LED grow lights are relatively cheap, bright and long lasting. They are attractive to indoor gardeners and hydroponic gardeners, as they do not consume as much power.  Today’s technology makes LED grow lights an attractive option.

In conjunction with and to increase light directed to the plants, indoor gardeners and hydroponic gardeners sometimes cover the walls of their growing enclosure with light reflective materials.  These can range from painting walls with light-reflective white paint to reflective panels of insulation along with a myriad of other materials.  This optimized lighting directed to the plants.  The larger plants get the more light they need.

Lighting for various types and sizes of plants should be monitored by the use of a timer.  Seedlings need fewer hours of plants than medium or fully-grown plants.  Hours of lighting should be started at four to six hours for seedlings and then increased as your plants grow.  For medium or fully matured plants, eight hours or more per day is the rule of thumb.

Indoor gardening and hydroponic gardening give people who love working in their gardens twice the amount of gardening time (or more) as seasonal changes do not put limits on growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit, etc.  Indoor and hydroponic gardening is a great way for senior citizens to continue gardening as planting beds can be raised to comfortable heights.  No more backbreaking digging holes, weeding, and all that bending and stooping. 

Grow lights are essential to indoor gardening and indoor hydroponic gardening for production of photosynthesis and they generally accelerate growth of your plants.

Karen Jones is an avid convert to Hydroponic Gardening.  She is now retired, from the Health Insurance industry and enjoys expanding her Hydroponic Greenhouse.

You may visit our website

Or email me at karen@hydroponicsgardeninghub.com

Tips For Healthy Garden Soil

A healthy garden grows from healthy soil. When the soil in your garden is healthy, your plants are most resistant to disease. Their roots can reach into the soil to extract water and nutrients, making these plants more vigorous. If you want to create healthy garden soil, you need to find a way to improve the conditions in the garden. Often, garden soil is poorly drained, compacted, and low on nutrients. It may also have a pH that is out of the neutral to slightly acidic soil pH that most plants love.

Identifying Common Soil Problems

Is your soil tough? If you find that water pools on the top of your soil and does not drain into it, you may have soil that is far too tough – compacted soil. You may also have poor drainage, which can be caused by an excess of clay in your soil.

If your plants seem to have stunted growth and will not flourish, even if your soil seems to be well-drained, you may have trouble with soil pH and nutrients. Check out your soil pH using a home test kit. While vegetables can be happy in soil that is slightly acidic, try to avoid very acidic soils under a pH of 5.5 or alkaline soils above 8. Plants thrive in the center and prefer not to grow in extremes.

Soil nutrient levels may also be the reason behind poor plant growth. While you may fertilize with natural or artificial fertilizers, these fertilizers often include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium but no trace minerals. Trace minerals are also essential to plant growth and can make the difference between an insipid-looking garden and a stunning one.

Compost Can Help Solve Common Soil Problems

While composting isn’t the answer to every garden question, it is certainly the answer to many of them! Compost is an excellent soil amendment. The light compost can be mixed with garden soil to improve the soil structure and drainage using light, organic-rich natural materials. For gardens with pooling water, this helps the water drain. Compost also acts as an erosion control when used as a top-dressing, preserving soil nutrients.

Gardens with a poor pH and lack of soil nutrients will also benefit from an infusion of compost, which is full of soil microbes that make soil nutrients more available to plants. It tends to be an ideal pH for most gardens and can shift the soil pH balance in a more favorable direction. Compost is also full of trace minerals and the essential big three fertilizer elements for the garden.

Adding compost to a garden bed is one of the most valuable things that you can do as a gardener. Compost acts as a soil amendment and a fertilizer. It creates gardens that are more resilient to disease. If your garden looks like it needs healthier soil, begin by adding compost to the garden beds.

Lars Handley is a master composter based in Dallas, Texas. Want to learn more? Visit his Composting site to learn every aspect of making compost. Don’t miss the Composting Q&A page where you can ask a question and get a personal response.

Soil and Sun in Vegetable Garden Planning

Sun and Soil

Good vegetable garden planning requires that you meet two special requirements: sun and soil. Vegetables can be fussy and they are very specific about their sun and soil needs.

Sunshine Requirements

You must have a garden bed that receives a minimum of six hours of full sun each day. The more sun, the better your garden will be. Your harvest will be bigger and your vegetables will taste better. A garden that faces south and has good space between the rows (six inches or so) will generally produce a better crop.

What About Soil?

The other unbending requirement is good soil. You must have proper soil, but what is that? How do you know if your soil is good for a vegetable garden?

Fertile soil for the vegetable garden should be loose, brown dirt. It should shake easily through your fingers. It has to be rich in nutrients and organic matter. You may use commercial fertilizers or manure to enrich the soil. If you have a friend with a horse or two, offer to clean his stable. Horse manure is great fertilizer.

The soil should also be just a bit acidic. The pH should be about 6.5. A pH reading of seven means your soil is neutral. Any reading above seven means that it is alkaline and a lower number means acidic. You can pick up a cheap testing kit at your local nursery or home care store. If the soil is too alkaline, just add a little peat moss and work it into the soil. If it is too acidic, add lime.

Just a side note: flowers and flowering bushes require more alkaline soil than vegetables. While your flowers may bloom when planted against your vegetable garden, they will generally produce bigger flowers and more of them if the soil in which they are planted has a pH a little above 7. Having said that, there are certain flowers (marigolds, etc.) that you may want to put in among your vegetables to help ward off pests.

Call for Help

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your county agent or the manager at your local nursery. These folks have probably been active gardeners for a while and they can provide you with information specific to your area. What’s more, they will be delighted to help. Vegetable gardeners love to talk shop!

Good sun and soil can make all the difference in the success of your garden. Begin at the beginning with great vegetable garden planning and reap the rewards of your labor all summer long.


A guy has celery sticking out of one ear, lettuce out of the other, and a zucchini up his nose. He goes to the doctor and asks him what’s wrong. The doctor tells him, “Well, for one thing, you’re not eating right.”


I love that joke! If you like it too, you’ll also love the information we have at Vegetable Garden Planning.  You will find beautiful farm country and extras besides at Baldwin County AL Real Estate and Mobile Alabama Business Directory.  See us today!