The Q&A Archives: How do I recoup nutrients in my vegetable garden soil?

Question: I use the same area every year to plant tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and basil. 5 years ago I was getting a large yield but as the years have passed I do not even get close to what I used to get. What should I do?

Answer: It's true that certain crops can deplete the soil of certain minerals so the best approach is to amend the soil before each gardening season. It's important to rotate your crops from place to place in the garden each year, to thwart insect and disease problems so although you plant the same crops, you can still move them to different spots in the garden each year. Begin by raking out all vegetation and then covering the entire garden bed with 4-5" of organic matter such as compost or aged manure. Dig this in to a depth of 8-10", then rake smooth and plant your veggies. Cover over the bare soil with additional organic matter to help slow water evaporation and suppress weeds. At the end of the growing season you can dig the organic mulch into the soil. After a few years you have rich, healthy garden soil and you can expect your yields to be much better. Enjoy your bountiful harvest!

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