Soil Preparation Secrets

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Work …we all love to hate it and complain about it – I think it’s just the British disposition, but …to be honest I actually really enjoy mine (and I’m sure I’m not alone) – even at this time of the year with the dark mornings / evenings and shall we say the rather inclement weather conditions for gardening – I still love it.

But there’s always one or two jobs that really don’t appeal and are a chore, needless to say they can’t be selectively forgotten about as they are more often than not “key” if all’s meant to trip along happily – for me the most uninspiring job is… soil preparation…sounds boring just typing it!

But yes very important and now is a good time to start tackling it especially in the vege patch. So here’s “short and sweet” basics.

To make it less boring don’t try and do it all in one or two days, spread it out over several weeks; that way your back and mind will get through it in a much better state and it works in with the weather conditions.

It’s best to dig soil over when it’s not water logged or frozen – digging promotes good plant growth by aerating the soil, breaking up any surface cap and it’s also an ideal time to add organic matter like home-made garden compost or shop bought soil improver (which helps with drainage, moisture retention and nutrients).

Don’t worry about digging the organic matter in as the worms will do that over the winter and early spring, also the cold frosty weather will break up the big clods without you having to do too much physical bashing.

As for the choice of digging implement I prefer a garden fork rather than a spade as you can “wiggle” it round obstacles. In the vege patch you’ll be going down to a full “spit”- which is the full depth of the fork/spade or even deeper whereas in borders you’ll often be shallower so as not to disturb roots of permanent plants or uprooting bulbs, the other great thing about digging is it helps to reduce weeds and pests and uses up a few calories before Christmas…well that’s what I like to think!

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