Like so many things in life, a key element to success in gardening is preparation… and in this case soil preparation. Get it right and your plants and seeds will have a much better chance of reaching their full potential, and providing you with colourful displays and tasty home-grown produce.
Dedicated seed beds and veg patches are easy to prepare, as are beds and borders, simply follow our guide below and get ready to celebrate your gardening triumph!
Dig, dig, dig…
It doesn’t matter whether you’re preparing a seed bed, a veg patch or a bed or border – they will need to be dug over as this helps to control weeds, aerates the soil and improve drainage. Sowing and planting is easier because the soil is soft and this ‘soft’ soil makes it easier for roots to penetrate, and therefore plants grow better.
Digging over the soil also presents a great opportunity to incorporate organic matter – such as well-rotted manure, compost, leaf mould, composted bark etc – which will add nutrients and helps to improve almost any soil structure. Added to light soils, organic matter provides something to hold moisture and nutrients, added to clay soils it helps to break up large particles so that the soil drains better, is easier to work, and doesn’t crack.
For your seed bed…
Once you’ve dug the soil over, leave it for 2-3 weeks to encourage weed seeds to germinate – which you can then remove before sowing so that they won’t compete with your seedlings for space, water and light.
On a dry day, and if your soil hasn’t been settled by rain, tread over your seed bed to firm it. Then scatter over a general purpose fertiliser and rake until the ground is level, removing any debris or large stones as you go – and you’re ready to sow.
If the ground is still cold when you sow, use a cloche to provide protected conditions for your seedlings to germinate and grow, remembering to keep them watered.
For your veg patch…
After you’ve dug over your veg patch and added your organic matter, you can then add fertiliser when you’re ready to plant.
For your beds and borders…
Beds and borders can be prepared at any time of the year as long as the ground isn’t frozen, too dry or too boggy. When you’re digging them over, you can turn in any annual weeds as long as they don’t have seed heads, but be sure to extract any perennial weeds carefully so that they don’t return.
Dig in as much well-rotted organic matter as you can to improve soil structure – use your own home-made garden compost or, if you don’t have any, then a product like Levington’s Organic Blend Farmyard Manure is perfect for the job.
Finally shortly before planting, sprinkle over a general purpose fertiliser, rake it in – and you’re ready to go!
Whatever areas you’re preparing, you can find all the organic matter, fertilisers, and tools – including a great range of lightweight tools from Moulton Mill – you’ll need to improve your soil in-store, plus some friendly, expert advice if you need it too!