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What you need:
  • Compost
  • Soil test kit
  • pH adjusters(lime, sulfer)
  • Fertilizer
Careful attention to soil preparation results in higher yields. Nearly all soil benefits in some way from the addition of organic amendments and each has its own strengths. One indispensable soil amendment is compost. It's free, if you make it yourself, and unrivaled in its ability to improve soil.
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Start preparing planting beds in early spring or as soon as the soil is workable. Fork the soil to a depth of 12"-18". Add a 3"-4" layer of compost or other organic material such as manure or leaf mold to the bed and thoroughly mix it in.
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Perform a soil test before starting garden preparation. This tells if the soil's pH needs adjustment. Lime is used to raise pH and sulfur to is used to lower it. If possible, add lime a month or so before planting or adding other amendments.
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The soil test also indicates any nutrient deficiencies in the soil. You may need to add fertilizer to the bed. This additional fertilizer can be added at the same time as the rest of the organic matter.
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After incorporating all of these materials into your garden soil, use a steel rake to level the area. Let the bed sit for a few days to settle. If you must plant right away, gently tamp down the soil with a flat board.