The Dirt on Soil -- Gardening Series

This is the second post in our Vegetable Garden Planning blogs series. 

In this blog post, we will talk about choosing the soil for our garden.  The second step in planning our garden is to decide what soil to choose.  Will you be using the soil out of your own yard?  To make sure that your soil is safe to plant your garden, you may want to have it tested to make sure there isn't anything that may harm your plants and the food it will produce.  Test results will also tell you about the nutrient status and pH of your soil and let you know if you need to add anything to your soil. Here is a link to an order form and directions for taking a soil test here.

Are you planning to use store-bought soil instead?  Soil is sold bagged from any garden store.  If you are adding soil to the ground or a raised bed you will add "garden soil" and if you are adding soil to a container you will need "potting soil".  Composted leaves are also a great addition to your soil and provide nutrients, organic matter and aid in creating a healthy soil structure. (LeafGro is a local bagged leaf compost available at most garden stores).  Make sure that the soil that you buy is the type of soil that your plants need.  You can ask the garden store associate or you can look for a picture of vegetables on the soil bag to see that it is fit for use with growing food.

Lastly, soil is the place where the plant's roots live. These roots need to be able to find water and air for the plant.  When planting, you will want to make sure to turn the soil with a shovel or hand tool to give roots the space they need to grow.  You can also add compost or other organic matter to the soil.  Have kids?  Think about putting paths into your garden to avoid crushing the soil and growing plants when you step.  Kids can even decorate the stepping stones!
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