The Q&A Archives: vegetable garden

Question: Last year was the first year in our new house that we had a vegetable garden and it did not do well. Our ground is very sandy and the plants did not thrive. I did use fertilizer but it did not work that well. What should I do to get it started for this year? I plant everything from peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash all of that and more. It was all weeds when we moved in and I pulled all of them out and tilled it over but it still did not do well.

Answer: Building good soil takes a few years, but it's fairly easy to do in a vegetable garden bed. Start by removing all the weeds (again!) and any plant debris left over from last year's garden. Then spread a 4-5" layer of organic matter (compost, aged-manure, shredded leaves, etc.) over the top of the bed and dig it in to a depth of about 8". This organic matter will help your sandy soil hold moisture and nutrients at root level to help your veggies thrive. After planting your veggies cover the bare soil with additional organic matter (1-2"). This will suppress weeds, slow water evaporation, and release nutrients into the soil as it decomposes. At the end of the gardening season you can dig it into the soil. A few years of this practice of adding organic matter will improve your sandy soil and help you grow healthy, happy vegetable plants.

Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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