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Beginner Gardening: New season, new garden. What to do with soil???

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Forum: Beginner GardeningReplies: 5, Views: 31
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Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9b)

August 15, 2013
12:33 PM

Post #9631621

Previously I had grown summer squash and hot chili peppers on my raised garden bed. With the colder season coming in for my zone I decided to embark on a new experience/gardening journey.

I may be a little late for this month, but I want to start on sugar snap peas, broccoli, and two kids of lettuce. They will be started from seeds. My question is...besides clearing the soil of it's old crop and digging out the roots 2 days ago what else should I be doing to prepare the soil for new seeds and plants?
Jacksonville, FL
(Zone 9a)

August 15, 2013
12:40 PM

Post #9631629

Aside from maybe taking a soil sample…Adding compost/organic material…rebuilding the nutrients that the previous crops depleted.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

August 15, 2013
1:15 PM

Post #9631657

I started to cut and paste, but it's much easier for you to go there.

You asked about soil preparation, and the link below is to a current discussion on the "cole crops" we're about to start planting for the fall/winter season, in Zone 8a-9a. I had included some tips on the soil amendments... You are welcomed to come join us in the fall/winter garden journey. We can guide you along from the other thread...


Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9b)

August 15, 2013
3:21 PM

Post #9631749

tlm1 wrote:Aside from maybe taking a soil sample…Adding compost/organic material…rebuilding the nutrients that the previous crops depleted.

Do I have to wait a few days after adding compost and organic material to start sowing new seeds?


Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

August 15, 2013
3:54 PM

Post #9631778

An inch or two (or three) of organic-rich compost will help any garden, and a raised bed lets you take full advantage of rich soil.

The worse the soil is, the more compost you need. And the more benefit it will get from turning that compost under and mixing the soil with it.

At least scratch 1-2" of compost down as far as it's easy (like 5" with a cultivator or 12" with a spade or fork. Then also top-dress with an inch or so, before planting or laying down mulch. Once you've added compost, don;t let it dry out or you'll kill some of the soil life that is one of the virtues of fresh compost.

Opinions differ, but my opinion is that, until you get your soil to be rich with organics, light, fertile and water-retentive enough but still well-draining, all the way down to the bottom of the possible root zone, it will benefit from deep turning to MIX any needed amendments at least 18 inches deep and maybe 24".

Maybe it only needs deep turning every 3-4 years after it is pretty good. And not at all after it is great soil as deep as you need it to be.

But while the soil more than 12" down is no better than "fair", you can speed up its improvement by doing some digging.

Pine bark fines and nuggets are great for drainage and aeration and releasing a little organic matter over several years. It breaks down so slowly that you don't need to worry about nitrogen deficit.

The value of a soil test increases after several years of amending. What if you have added too much of something, or never did add enough of something else? And waht if some ehavy feeders depleted something that used to be present in adequate amounts?

All the work you put into the bed makes it potentially five times as productive as the raw dirt used to be. Therefore any deficiency or excess in NPK, pH or micronutrients is holding you back much more now than they were before. You have more to gain from a sufficency of everything.

This message was edited Aug 15, 2013 3:58 PM

This message was edited Aug 15, 2013 3:59 PM
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

August 15, 2013
9:20 PM

Post #9632011

"Do I have to wait a few days after adding compost and organic material to start sowing new seeds?"

Not usually. OK to plant right away unless you are using something like stall cleanings that still smell of ammonia. That fresh a material would not be good for direct seeding.

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