You have probably noticed a common theme when it comes to gardening. One of the first requirements is, naturally, the soil. But buying the soil or having it in your garden doesn’t mean that you’re ready to start. In order to have your plants growing well, you first need to prepare soil for planting.
Many years of gardening have helped me to learn how to treat soil so I can prepare a perfect soil base for my future planting. Now, I do understand that you may feel a bit confused, especially if you are a beginner.
Fear not, I am here to pass my knowledge of gardening to you so that you also can have a healthy and rewarding garden.
How To Prepare Soil For Planting – Make Healthy Soil
The ideal soil for planting is the organic one.
If you have any experience with gardening, you have probably noticed by now how most of the plants grow well in a soil that is fluffy and loose.
In such soil, there is enough air so the roots can grow uninterrupted.
This type of soil is also rich in humus.
As you may have already heard, hummus is an organic matter which is a product of the decomposing process of leaves, grass cuttings and compost.
It makes a great environment for many living organisms, such as bacteria and fungi.
These are also one of the crucial elements of healthy soil.
Now that we established some of the main characteristics of healthy soil, it is time to determine whether your soil is good enough for future planting.
If you are buying soil in a garden center, you won’t be having many difficulties.
This being said, you need to pay attention to soil ingredients.
The majority of soil I’ve bought in garden centers are packed with matters that are extremely nutritious and beneficial to plants.
I’ve created the list of best potting soil that you can use for indoor and outdoor garden. Check it out.
Nonetheless, I would like to point out a couple of things you should look for in the soil.
If you want your plants to grow well, the nutrients that are a must in any healthy soil are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
These are also known as macronutrients since the plants use them primarily.
You will find many fertilizers on the market that say they are complete fertilizers because they contain all three of the nutrients, but don’t be fooled.
There are at least 10 elements that are necessary for plant growth.
The second largest group of elements is known as secondary macronutrients.
Some of these nutrients are calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.
Therefore, if the soil of your choice lacks in any nutrient, make sure to use fertilizer.
If, on the other hand, you’re working with soil in your garden, you can test it to determine its health.
You can do this by bringing a soil sample to a specific lab that tests soil health or you can buy one of those at home soil tests kit.
Of course, the lab test will be more specific, but the home test will do its job as well.
Same rules apply to the garden soil-if you see that some of the nutrients values are lower than required, buy yourself a good quality fertilizer.
1. Determine soil type
One of the most important steps of preparing the soil for planting is knowing its type.
This is necessary because some plants require more sandy type of soil because they provide good drainage.
Others may require a more dense type of soil that maintains its moisture.
For this step, you won’t need any equipment or experts.
You can test the type of soil by rubbing a little bit of soil between your fingers. Based on soil’s grittiness you can determine its type.
Therefore, if the soil feels grainy it’s most likely that it’s the sandy soil you have.
If, on the other hand, the soil feels smooth like a powder then it is silty.
In order to recognize the third type of soil, which is clay type, you will need to test it both dry and wet.
If the soil feels harsh when it’s still dry but slippery when it’s wet, you’re dealing with clay soil.
In my experience, the most fertile soil is the silty soil. It is quite dense and drains well so most of my plants enjoy it.
They are also very good when mixed with organic matters.
A sandy soil, for example, doesn’t react well to organic matters and is very hard to mix with.
2. Enhance soil
Now that you’ve determined the soil type, you may want to enhance it.
I’ve already mentioned that the best soil is the organic one, but you can improve other soils by adding organic matter to them.
I do this by adding compost or manure to soil, but also by adding fertilizers.
Some people tend to use only fertilizers but I have to mention that they usually replenish only certain nutrients.
However, I still recommend using them. I tend to combine them with compost which improves the general condition of the soil.
The compost makes the soil more fluffy and therefore better for plants, especially if you want to harvest carrots for example so they don’t get stuck in the soil.
When it comes to fertilizers, you can use both liquid or dry fertilizer.
I have previously mentioned that I prefer liquid fertilizer because I can use it even after I have planted my plants.
But in this initial stage that is preparing the soil for planting, you can use dry fertilizers that release their nutrients slowly.
They will provide a constant amount of nutrients.
Also, the dry fertilizers will provide your plants with nutrients for much longer than the liquid fertilizers.
I don’t mind adding the liquid fertilizer ever so often but if you are looking to save some time than the dry fertilizer might be a perfect solution for you.
Whichever you choose, make sure to follow the instructions on the label so you can get the most out of them.
3. Air in the soil
As you can probably imagine, the fluffier the soil is, the more air there is.
Experts say that ideal soil should be 25% air.
I personally wouldn’t bother with checking in a lab whether my soil is airy enough. If it feels fluffy, the chances are it has enough air. If the soil feels too dense make sure to fluff it out a bit.
Also, when you plant the plants of your choice, try not pressing the soil hard.
Instead, try to pack the soil in place with a lighter touch.
And if you have a garden avoid walking on the garden beds.
4. Add water
This one probably feels like a no brainer, but I thought I should mention it nonetheless.
Experts say that the water percentage should be 25% and I completely agree with that.
However, try not to overwater any plant.
In my garden I usually use sprinklers but water can is a great solution if you have an indoor garden.
When you add water to make sure to mix the soil a bit so that the water can reach all of its parts.
List Of Nutrients And Where To Find Them
Now that we have established all of the essential steps to successfully preparing the soil for planting, I thought I should tell you a bit more about nutrients.
Since they are necessary for growing your plants it might be useful to know where to find them so that you don’t have to always buy them in a store.
So, here is the list of the most important nutrients, as well as a suggestion to where to look for them:
1) NITROGEN– composted livestock manure, chicken manure, blood meal, fish emulsion
2) POTASSIUM-granite meal, shrimp shell meal, wood ashes
3) PHOSPHORUS– bonemeal
4) MAGNESIUM– Epsom salts, chelated magnesium
5) CALCIUM– eggshells, wood ashes, oyster shells, bonemeal, chelated calcium
6) SULFUR-sulfur, zinc sulfate
7) ZINC– chelated zinc, zinc sulfate
8) IRON-chelated iron
The list certainly doesn’t end here but I have listed the most important nutrients.
1. Can you pick the soil from your garden and use it for indoors planting?
The answer is definitely yes! You can use the soil from your garden but you should first determine whether it’s a suitable type for planting indoors. It should have good drainage capacity. Also, you may want to enhance it a bit using organic matters or fertilizer.
2. Is fertilizer enough to enhance soil quality?
Well, in my opinion, using only fertilizer won’t give you the best results. I tend to combine fertilizers with organic matters and nutrients. This has proven to be the most effective combination for me.
Knowing how to prepare the soil for planting is the first step to growing good quality plants. Following the steps I’ve listed can help you greatly with that since I’ve shared the best advice that I’ve collected over the years. However, if you have any doubts or questions, I am at your complete disposal.
Do you have any advice for me on this topic? How do you prepare the soil for planting? Make sure to comment and share your advice with the rest of my readers and me!