Soil preparation can be really confusing for beginners. While there are lots of resources online that will tell you various kinds of composts, soil preparation methods, and others, they will speak to you in such a way that you already know the basics.
What if you don’t know the basics yet?!
Don’t worry. Here in Eazy Garden, we make gardening fit for everyone. That’s why we made the Ultimate Soil Preparation Guide for Beginners, a step-by-step tutorial on how you can create the best soil mix for your garden.
Just a reminder, this article will be for beginners. The specifications of the instructions will go as follows:
- Planting only one kind of crop in one garden bed;
- General crops such as potatoes, beets, and carrots;
- Spring season with minimal to no weather irregularities;
- Accessibility to indirect sunlight; and
- Minimal to no pest infestation.
If your concern does not fit these specifications, you can skip this article. Don’t worry; we- also have other reviews and tutorials for you!
But if you have all of these and would like to try gardening, then let’s start with the soil preparation steps!
Step 1: Choosing your compost ingredients
In creating the compost, it's important to know the two main nutrients that your soil needs: Carbon and Nitrogen. Therefore, all of the ingredients that you should add to your compost should have the two.
So, what are the ingredients of good compost? For beginners, you can stick with this list:
- Chicken Manure - Rich in Nitrogen and is a good compost activator.
- Egg Shells - Rich in Calcium Carbonate that will help your plants germinate properly.
- Green Leaves or Garden Plants - Rich in various minerals and enzymes that can repel pests.
- Fruit and Vegetable Table Scraps - Also rich in Nitrogen that will activate the heat process, aiding your plant's capacity to do photosynthesis.
- Manufactured Garden Soil - Works as a base that combines the other ingredients.
Step 2: Creating the Mixture
When you’ve already completed the ingredients, creating the compost mixture itself would be easy.
- Prepare a large container with five drain holes underneath. These holes are needs as you would be watering your compost frequently.
- Create at least 2 inches of compost layers in the following order: garden soil, chicken manure, fruit and vegetable table scraps, green leaves, eggshells.
- If you have more ingredients, repeat the order. Just make sure that you end with chicken manure and garden soil on top.
- Compress the ingredients into one another by pushing down the topmost layer.
- Generously water the compost mixture.
Step 3: Composting the mixture
This is perhaps the most important information that most gardening articles miss out on— soil preparation takes time. You can’t prepare your soil for gardening in just one day!
Once you’ve already created your mixture, it’s time to compost it. This will range from 30-40 days. Within this timeframe, you constantly have to:
- Expose your mixture to direct sunlight.
- Water the compost when the top layer of garden soil dries up.
- Use the drained water in re-watering the compost so you won’t lose any essential nutrients.
- Mix the compost at least every five days.
- Repeat the process in 30-40 days.
TIP: If you’re not going to use your compost immediately, you can place dried and mulched leaves on the top of your compost. This will help you retain the moisture of the soil for an extended period.
Step 4: Choosing the location of your garden bed
While composting your soil, it’s time to work on your garden bed! You can choose from raised garden bed or in-ground gardening. Whichever you go for, here are the following tips in choosing the best location for your plants:
- As much as possible, the area should have rich, loose, and loamy soil.
- It should be exposed to sunlight for at least six hours every day.
- It should have good air circulation.
- If you’re planning to grow your garden fully, make sure that you select a place where you can excavate a drainage area
- As much as possible, it should be near your water source for convenient and hassle-free irrigation.
- It’s also best to place it near your shed for easier access to your tools.
- Animals should have minimal to no access to your garden bed to avoid crop damage.
Step 5: Preparing your soil
Now that you already know the location of your garden bed, it’s now time to prepare your soil! While the process might be short, this part is actually the most tiring one. So prepare your body for this!
- Remove all the weeds and other unwanted plants in the area using a Planting Auger. This soil preparation tool will make sure that the weeds are removed down to their roots to avoid fast re-growth.
- Till the soil for at least 8 to 10 inches deep; this will ensure that your soil is loose enough to accommodate growing roots. Using a planting auger will make this process 6x faster because of the drill.
- Mix the compost to your loose soil. Make sure that your compost covers at least 2-3 inches of your garden bed. This way, you can be sure that your garden bed is healthy enough to grow plants.
- Make raised garden beds. The height of the garden bed should be at least 8 to 10 inches, while the width should be at least 6 to 10 inches.
- If your garden bed looks a bit dull and dry, add a generous amount of water before planting your seeds or transferring your seedlings.
TIP: If you’re gardening around mid to late spring, it’s best to add mulched leaves on top of your garden bed. This will slow down the process of drying in your soil. Thus, you can have longer intervals in watering your plants.
And you’re done!
See? The basic soil preparation steps aren’t that hard! So what are you waiting for? Grab those gardening gloves and prepare the garden beds of your veggies now!