Soil Preperation Needs

I’m not an experienced gardener and I would like, if you would, some advice on soil prep. The garden spot I have does have decent topsoil and at least 5-6 hours of direct sun.

The question I have is that the garden’s soil ‘packs’ very hard over time (maybe due to ubiquitous Missouri clay), what should/could I mix in the soil, in the area with the peppers, to try to assure good growth and would it be ‘good’ in general for other types of pepper plants. Thank you for your time, Wilson

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    Karen
    April 26, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Wilson,

    Soil prep can be the one of the most important first steps in getting your garden ready. You might want to start with a soil test to confirm the pH of your soil. For instance, in the Midwest, the soil is pretty alkaline but there are often little pockets of some totally different soil make-ups.

    Decent topsoil is good for growing grass and perennials but vegetables are heavy feeders and will take a lot of nutrients from the earth, so you want to begin with as rich a soil as you can. If you do have heavy clay, when you gently squeeze a handful of soil together it will stay a clump and not be slightly crumbly. The best thing to add to clay soil is lots of organic matter. This can be from your own compost pile or from your city, if you’re lucky enough to have a city compost. Just make sure if it’s from the city it is well composted and clean of rocks and other unwanted items. You could also till in well-aged livestock or horse manure, some fine hardwood mulch, untreated grass clippings or my second favorite, peat moss. Compost is my first choice, like our Espoma Garden Manure. You might also want to add some of our Espoma GreenSand to help loosen up the clay. Once you’ve tilled all this in, your soil should be much more workable. After all these nutrients are well mixed in you can also add some fertilizer like Espoma’s Plant-tone or Hi-Yield’s Garden Fertilizer to add some instant energy for your new plants. Just mix this in thoroughly – then you’re ready to plant.

    This prep would be ideal for peppers, tomatoes or most garden vegetables.

    Good Growing,
    Karen

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