Part 3 Edible Gardening 101:Prepare the Soil

Part 3/12 Edible Gardening 101

This to me is one of the most important things you will work on and the journey that never ends. Healthy soil is alive and dynamic. It is constantly a cycle of life and death. It sustains everything on earth. The health of your food will depend on the health of your soil.

At least once in your garden lifetime get a garden soil test. Check your local garden center or  Dalhousie Agricultural College does a more comprehensive test.

In this area, we lack selenium, and usually need to lower acidity in our soil. We do this by adding pelletized lime in the fall (when I remember ) every couple years. A 50 lb bag does my whole garden.

Every soil benefits from organic matter being added. This can be mulched leaves, grass clippings, good quality compost ( this is a whole section on its own), fish emulsion, worm casings, egg shells (dried and crushed), straw, sheep, goat or rabbit manure bedding etc. These can all be added directly as they are a green manure.

We compost horse, chicken,and duck manure and bedding from our animals , pile it high to ensure internal temperature gets high enough to kill weeds and aged long enough the nitrogen has broken down, so it doesn’t “burn” your plants. This can sometimes take a few years. We sell this from our farm for $5 a bag.

You can add aged compost willy nilly, and it will always help. But a good rule of thumb is 4-6 inches. Until you get more familiar with plants and their individual needs, this is where you should start.

If you are planting directly in the ground, you may wish to till the soil. It helps with root development and aerating the soil especailly the first few years. After that it will get easier to plant directly, called a no till method. Just top up, broad fork and go.

Our market test garden requires our tractor

I have had my little electric tiller for 15 years and it has paid for itself many times over.

Once you till your space, let the grass or hard clumps dry up for a day, then pick them out, compost away from the garden. Till again. Work in your compost lightly. Breathe:)

Love Jenn xx

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