The Q&A Archives: Renewing Old Garden

Question: I am starting a garden. There was one here 10 years ago. Do I treat the soil as if it is a "new" garden spot?

Answer: Yes, I would begin as if from scratch. The first thing you should do is add plenty of organic matter. This helps sandy soil retain moisture. The easiest and cheapest organic matter to use is compost that you've generated yourself in your compost bin or pile. If you haven't got one you should seriously consider starting one. If there's a horse stable or other livestock farm nearby, ask if they have aged manure for the taking, and mix it thoroughly with your soil a few weeks prior to planting. Mulch around your plants, and as it decays, add more. This will also enrich the soil. Seaweed is a great addition to compost piles and a rich mulch, since it has bountiful micronutrients as well as "the big three" (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium - the N-P-K you see on fertilizer labels).<br><br>You also should have your soil tested by your State University Extension Service. Their number and web site are:(413) 545-4800, . Tell them it is a test for a new garden. They wil tell you EXACTLY what you need and the quantities needed in order to properly amend your soil for the best yields. <br> <br>

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