If you're new to gardening and are inspired to grow some vegetables, here are five important "s" elements — you'll want to consider:
To grow the best vegetables you need good soil. It's worth taking the time to test your soil's pH (a measure of its acidity or alkalinity) and amend it as needed before planting. If your soil is too acid or alkaline, plants can't take up the nutrients they need. You can raise pH ("sweeten the soil") with lime, and lower it with sulfur. At a minimum, though, plan to add compost; it improves both drainage and the soil's water-holding capacity. Compost also adds nutrients and boosts soil life. You can purchase a soil test kit from most regional Cooperative Extension offices or garden centers. You can also purchase compost from garden centers or make your own (learn how at www.garden.org).