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Preparing the Soil

Regardless of the soil in your garden, it can be improved by adding organic matter. This is one of the keys to successful vegetable gardening.

If your soil is heavy clay, the addition of organic matter improves both drainage and aeration and also allows better root development. Liberal amounts of organic matter help sandy soil hold water and nutrients.

Where do you get organic matter? This magical stuff which improves soil and serves as a food source for soil fungi and bacteria comes in the form of peat moss, compost, hay, grass clippings, barnyard fertilizer, shredded bark, leaves or even shredded newspapers.

When adding organic matter to soil, supply enough to physically change the soil structure. Ideally, at least one-third of the final soil mix should be some type of organic material. To accomplish this, spread a 2- to 4- inch layer of organic material over the garden surface and till it to a depth of at least 6 to 10 inches. Apply the recommended rate of fertilizer over the garden surface at the same time, and till it in along with the organic material.

Tilling the Soil

Some gardeners prefer a shovel or spading fork to the rototiller for working garden soil, but many look for an easier way to handle this chore. For gardeners with rototillers or those who are considering renting or buying one, here are some tips to make the tilling job much easier.

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This page was last updated on November 16, 2002