Preparing your soil too early in the spring could result in compacting it. Your soil is ready for preparation when you can take up a handful and it falls apart when you squeeze it. If it forms a ball of mud it is best to wait for it to dry out.
Once your soil is dry enough to work with it may be a good idea to test the pH level. This can be done rather simply with a home test kit available at most greenhouses and nurseries.
“Testing your soil will give you the information you need to determine how best to amend your soil,” said Tim Sime, owner of Jolly Lane Greenhouse in Rapid City.
After you’ve tested your soil and determined what kind of plants will grow best, dig or till it up 6-8 inches deep. Root crops like carrots, beets, potatoes and parsnips like to be even deeper in the soil. Add into your soil a liberal amount of organic matter; generally a 50/50 mix of soil and composted material is best. While mixing in the organic material till even deeper – about 16 inches to properly loosen the soil.
Be sure to free your garden soil of any weeds or diseases. Avoid weed and feed fertilizers in this step as they often contain elements that will harm vegetables.
“An alternative to weed and feed fertilizers is to simply cover the area with black weed paper, available at most garden centers, or an old bed sheet for a week prior to planting,” advised Sime.
Now it’s time to choose your seeds! Stick with the vegetables you enjoy eating most with emphasis on those that are just best when eaten fresh from the garden like sweet corn, tomatoes and peas.
“Starting with seeds can be tricky. If this is your first time growing a garden you may prefer to start with seedlings,” said Sime of the Rapid City greenhouse.
It’s important that your seeds and seedlings are good quality. Cutting corners at this stage could result in poor yield at harvest. Check the labels of seed packets to make sure they were packed for the current growing season. Take the time to inspect seedlings before you purchase them – look for bug holes and disease. Quality nurseries like Jolly Lane Greenhouse will take care to ensure your seeds and plants are healthy and ready for the planting season.
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About Jolly Lane Greenhouse
Jolly Lane Greenhouse is open all year, providing novice gardeners and experienced green thumbs alike with high-quality seasonal plants, trees, and herbs, seasonal decorations, and expert advice on landscape design and plant care. For more information about the Rapid City garden center, visit http://www.jollylane.com/