From the Ground Up: Soil Preparation

In this second installment on my garden I will look at the preparation and nourishment of the soil. When I first started my garden weeds were having problems growing now the situation is improving.

The garden, as I inherited it, consisted of small half-dead cedars around the edge and a few weeds. The soil was kind of rocky clay, except where someone had planted the cedars in sand, (I’m not sure, this may be what you’re supposed to do with cedars, but don’t quote me on it). Obviously something had to be done if I wanted to get vegetables to grow.

I started last summer by turning about 50kg of composted sheep manure into the ground. Also, I bought a composter, (you can see it in the photos, it’s the wooden box), from the city and started using it. The manure has a fertilizing value of 5-5-5, plus it contains a bunch of organic matter, something that was sorely lacking in the ground. This worked fairly well, and I had a bountiful harvest of tomatoes, but most of my other plants didn’t really produce, although I think it’s because they didn’t get started until mid July.

The preparation for this year’s garden started last fall. All the dead plants from last year’s garden went into the composter, and another 120kg of sheep’s manure, as well as a bunch of fallen leaves, were turned into the soil. Then it was time for the snow to fall.

Fast forward to last weekend. With the snow melted and the ground thawed it was time to start the garden. I dug 100kg of cattle manure, (for variety), and another 20kg or sheep manure into the soil. Also, I emptied my composter and added everything that had turned to soil to the garden, (not much — I guess I have to turn my compost more). With this addition of manure and compost the soil in my garden is finally starting to look fertile, although it will be some time before it is black & crumbly.

I will continue to add as much organic matter as possible to the soil in both the spring and fall, and hopefully each year the garden will produce a richer harvest. For this year, however, we will have to see how it does, perhaps with some help from liquid fertilizers, (but that’s another article).

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