preparing soil for a vegtable garden
Hi there, 1) I wanted to know if I need to mix my soil (the ground)I'm preparing to plant some veggies and herbs in with anything else but compost ? say manure for example? 2) If I plant in in a pot or raised bed, then what is the best to fill it with. 3)Summer here is very hot (95-100 degrees average) and mostly dry. will Mulch or wood chips help? at what point do I add it ? Thank you for your time and knowledge. E.
When starting a new bed, a soil test is recommended. The best tests are done by your state cooperative extension service. It will tell you if there are deficiencies and what to do to correct them, what your pH is and whether you have clay, sand, silt or loam. You'll be glad to hear that there is no need for the backyard gardener to dig amendments into the soil. Plant your beds, put 2 inches of compost on top and then 2-3 inches of a loose mulch like wood chips. Don't let the compost and mulch touch plant stems. Veggies require fertilization of some sort. Usually a generic balanced fertilizer is fine; follow instructions. Tomatoes and corn are particularly heavy feeders. Basil will grow fine in regular garden soil but woody herbs like lavender and sage require soil that drains quickly and is rather sandy. In containers, don't use any regular garden soil. Buy potting mix in a bag: these have no soil in them even though we call it potting soil. Usually, it has peat moss, perlite, compost and "forest products". Always use pots that have drainage holes and raise them up on bricks, sticks or specially made "pot feet" to ensure good drainage and allow some air into the roots. You can grow almost anything in pots. They need watering more frequently than in-ground plants. If you are in an area with summer thunderstorms, you may want to make your containers wind proof. A brick in the bottom of a large container, especially anything tall like tomatoes helps prevent toppling over. You can put all your pots in a box you've constructed and weighed-down or nailed into place. Inexpensive styrofoam like container are available. They may offer roots greater protection from the heat of direct sunlight than black plastic pots. You might front your pots with hay or wrap burlap around the whole lot of them to cast shade on the roots. Terra cotta is a popular choice but it dries out quickly. Painting them a light color will decrease moisture loss. Check with your state co-op extension service: they will have planting / grow times for veggies and which do well in your climate.