Home Vegetable Garden Basics: Garden Soil

Don’t be surprised if you cannot find a spot which has the ideal garden soil ready for use.

When you’re looking for that perfect spot for your home vegetable garden, don’t worry if the garden soil is poor. All soil except the very worst of soils can be brought up to a very high degree of productivity especially when dealing with such small areas as is required for a home vegetable garden.

Don’t let the fact that you have only poor soil available for your new home vegetable garden discourage you.   Proper treatment of garden soil is much more important.  Remember this:  A  garden patch of average run-down or “never-brought-up” soil can  produce much more for the energetic and careful gardener than will the richest soil grow under average methods of cultivation.

upgrading poor garden soil to rich garden soil

There are many stories of how gardeners have taken large tracts of soil that were almost pure sand, or were so heavy and mucky that for centuries these tracts of land  lay uncultivated, and in a matter of only a few years, have converted this garden soil to the point of annually yielding tremendous crops on a commercial basis.

Secret To Good Garden Soil?

The secret to good soil lies in adding compost, manure, and/or other ingredients such as garden sand or peat moss until one has the ideal soil in which to grow vegetables:  your goal is to end up with a soil that can be described as “rich, sandy loam.”

What is “Rich Soil”?

“Rich Soil,” in the gardener’s vocabulary, means soil that is full of plant food ready to be used, all prepared and spread out on the garden table, or rather in your home vegetable garden, where growing seedlings or plants can at once make use of it; in one word — “rich soil” is soil full of “available” plant food.

Practically no soils in long- inhabited communities can remain naturally rich enough to produce big crops. Garden soil is made rich, or kept rich, in two ways; first, by cultivation  (which helps to change the raw plant food stored in the soil into available forms) and second, by adding manure and/or plant food to the soil from outside sources.

What is “Sandy Soil?

“Sandy Soil” refers to a soil containing enough particles of sand so that even after a few days after a rain, the water will have passed through the soil without leaving it pasty and sticky; the soil is “light” enough, as it is called, so that a handful of this soil, under ordinary conditions, will crumble and fall apart readily after being pressed in the hand. The soil does not need to have a sandy appearance, but it should be friable.

What is “Loam Soil”?

“Loam Soil is a rich, friable soil,” says Webster. That hardly covers it, but the definition does describe what loam soil is. When garden soil is identified as loam, this soil is made up of sand and clay which are in proper proportions so that neither greatly predominates.   Loam soil is usually dark in color from cultivation and enrichment.   Such a soil, even to the untrained eye, just naturally looks as if it would grow things. As one gardener I know would say, “This soil looks good enough to eat!”

Although cultivation, moisture, and temperature are also needed, rich sandy loam, which is made and not found, is the first of the four all-important factors to growing lush, nutrition-filled, delicious vegetables in your home vegetable garden.

So to repeat what was said at the beginning: When first choosing a spot for your home vegetable garden, do not worry about the condition of your soil. As mentioned in the previous blog, it is better to first focus on your garden being readily accessible and being in a spot where it has full exposure to sunlight. Through proper cultivation and the addition of mulches or compost, you can have this “rich sandy loam” soil in no time.

Here’s more on how you can identify, test, and improve your garden soil .

Hope this helps. . .

Marcie

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