If you are just joining me, please read Part 1 – Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success.
Preparing your soil is the first fundamental step when you start a garden. Without preparing your soil you are pretty much wasting a lot of time and energy. And you are making it harder, if not impossible, to be successful.
What Soil Preparation Does
Soil Preparation is your first step in creating the most productive garden possible. It helps improve the physical condition of the soil – called tilth. It aerates the deeper layers of the soil, allowing the plants to grow bigger since they will have more room for their roots. It also improves water infiltration and drainage which is very important to plant growth.
The biggest excuse I hear from folks who choose not to prepare the soil first is: “I don’t have time.” This has to be a mental thing and the excuse has got to be the biggest age old excuse for anything that someone does not want to do. The actual fact is that soil preparation saves you so much time in gardening that its almost unmeasurable. The benefits are unending and it’s such a basic principle of sustainable agriculture that its hard to alter or get around it.
Certainly I would not want to spend time in soil preparation if it were not necessary. Frankly, I don’t want to do anything out in the garden that is not necessary — except maybe walk around and look at things. I want to get to the end result saving as much time as possible to do other things I want to do. This is why I would not think of just turning over soil and planting – period.
No Time? Start Small!
Not having time is a great reason to start small if you are just beginning. You don’t have to dig up everything at one time. When we first started a garden 32 years ago we prepared beds that were 3 1/2 by 7 feet. One step at a time is all you need. And as far as I’m concerned it’s something you do once. That’s it.
When you start thinking that you want to put in dozens of plants (and/or crops) and you don’t have your soil prepared yet ——-slow down. Better to go slowly and really have something, than do it half way and cause yourself unnecessary problems.
Being Unrealistic Breeds Discouragement and Failure
Just about every gardener I know, myself included, has trouble with being realistic about how much of a garden they will have time to work.
When you take on more than you can handle and resulting problems come up ———-it breeds discouragement and the desire to “throw in the towel.” Taking it a little at a time will help you keep the excitement and make it a lot more fun.
The Turtle Won the Race.
Time goes quickly and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Believe me — if I can do it —almost anyone can do it. I have a lot physical difficulty in moving, standing, etc. Doesn’t stop me — but it’s very difficult at times. And to top it all off, I’m slow as molasses. Sometimes when I’m looking at my gardens I wonder to myself —especially when I’m in pain ——“How did I do all this?”——– The answer is: one step at a time.
All I can say is ——take heart if you’re slow —the turtle won the race.
The Real Deal:
It’s more a question of what you want to do and priorities rather than how much time you have.
I’ll continue this topic of Soil Preparation in the next post.
Still to come is:
- The best time to prepare your soil.
- What to do before you begin.
- The main idea in “digging”
- How to do it: 9 steps
- How to do it if you have clay soil.
- The original Double Digging.
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