The Q&A Archives: How Do I Prepare My Soil For Vegetable Gardening?

Question: I want to know how and when I should prepare the soil for my veggie garden. Do I need to dig up some of the existing soil and add something or just top it off? Do I need a raised bed? My space is about 3-4' wide and outlines my patio and is then enclosed in a 6' fence.

Answer: Your first step should probably be to obtain an accurate soil test to see what you have to work with. Contact your County Extension Agent (ph # 915/687-1351) for details. Usually Extension Offices offer this service for a nominal fee or free. Generallywhen you send your soil in for testing you will also send in a completed questionnaire regarding the proposed usage for the soil being tested. By providing this information, the agency can better recommend soil amendments/treatments as necessary. Soil samples can be taken any time of year but according to the USDA when taken in October, November or December you get faster results. Whether or not to plant your veggies in a raised bed is usually a matter of gardener preference unless you have extenuating circumstances which require a raised bed or plan to plant crops which prefer a raised bed. Regardless of soil test results, just about all new planting areas appreciate a hefty addition of organic material such as mushroom compost, leaf mould, compost from your own heap, composted cow manure, etc. Also regardless of soil results you will want to make sure your soil is loose, not compacted. You want good drainage as well. <br><br>I'm a little concerned about that 6' fence--remember that most veggies require full sun to produce well. If the area is shaded you'll be more limited in what will thrive. <br><br>Check out these things and then check back in when you get your test results....if you still need us...those Extension Agents are a fountain of knowledge!

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