need help with soil - Knowledgebase Question

vallejo, Ca
Question by mariaisthatw
December 1, 2009
In my biology class we have decided to start a garden club. The problem is that our little patch of garden has been ruined by inproper care. Now the soil is dry and unplantable. We need help to make the soil healthy enough to plant vegetables etc. but we do not have the knowledge or the know-how to fix it. unfortunately i was picked president and we need help getting the soil healthy. please help.


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Answer from NGA
December 1, 2009

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I think you should be proud to serve as president of your new garden club. There will be some work involved, but the rewards will be great! You might want to start with a soil test so you'll have some idea of the soil's pH. Most vegetables will be happy in soil that registers 6.5 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral). If your soil test indicates a need to raise or lower the pH, you can add lime or sulfur as required.

You can enrich your soil over a period of years and end up with rich garden loam if you add organic matter. Start this spring by removing all vegetation from the area and spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the vegetable bed. You can use compost, aged manure (fresh manure can be too hot and might contain weed seeds), shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig or till this organic matter into the soil - 8-10 inches deep. Plant your veggies and mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular vegetable garden. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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