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Preparing a new vegetable garden

Preparing a new vegetable garden
Posted by KimmSr from MI-4a/5b on 2009-04-03 08:39:00

Start by contacting the local office of your state universities USDA Cooperative Extension Service and inquiring about having a good, reliable soil test done so you know what your soils pH and base nutrient load is and then dig in with these simple soil tests.
It is never a good idea to rip out any tree roots since the tree needs those roots to live. More than likely the soil around that area is lacking adequate organic matter and until you get the soil into a good, healthy condition you wil not be able to grow much there. Start your soil improvement with a good, reliable soil test. contact the local office of your state universities USDA Cooperative Extension Service and aks about having a soil test doen so you know what the soils pH and the base nutrient load is and then dig in with these simple soil tests,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains’ too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer you soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.

which can help you get that soil into a condition that will grow plants.
to see what else you need do to make that soil into a good, healthy soil that will grow strong and healthy plants.
That those leaves and grass clippings did not much break down over the winter is no real surprise especially if they were spread out over a large area and not piled up, but you do have a good start on gettng organic matter into your soil and I would leave that there and simply let the soil bacteria work on getting it into your soil and would add more each fall.
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