Soil preparation in your kitchen garden
When starting a kitchen garden on soil substrates, it's important to prepare well: fertile soil will guarantee healthy plant growth, resulting in good flowering and fruiting. We offer you 5 useful steps - now soil preparation in your kitchen garden will be a breeze!
Step 1 - soil analysis
Before creating a kitchen garden you should know which soil your garden contains. Roughly speaking our soil is divided into four categories: sand, loam, clay and loess (a rich, friable and often calcareous soil).When selecting plants please be aware that not all plants will thrive on just any type of soil. Besides, soil preparation may vary as to soil type. It's always worthwhile to have your soil analysed, or do so yourself. A very simple soil analysis is: squeeze a handful of garden soil into a roll. Now, can you bend it? Then ''clay'' is the outcome of your soil analysis! The roll won't bend? Loam. Is your soil very loose so you cannot form a roll at all? Sandy soil, most likely.
Step 2 - Check soil acidity
Not only the type of soil is important, acidity is too. Check it with a pH-meter. A pH-value of 5,5 tot 7,5 is average, meaning most plants will do well in this soil. Did the level drop below 5,5? This soil will be too acid for vegetables, so add lime to improve (''sweeten'') its acidity level to a healthier balance. Above 7,5? This soil is pretty calcareous, so you might need to add some leaf-mould or peat during soil preparation.
Step 3 - Make a kitchen garden plan
After establishing your garden's type of soil and its acidity level, now prepare by listing which vegetables you wish to grow, or indeed fruit and/or herbs. In case of having lots of space you might even consider creating a flower meadow. Then take into account which soil type is predominant and preferred by the plants you want to grow. Also check on how your garden is situated as to sun or shade. Finally verify how to apply companion planting and plant rotation. Companion planting is joining plants that form ''nice companions'' (being singularly or mutually beneficial). Plant rotation means allowing your plants a new, fresh spot every year to avoid soil exhaustion.
Step 4 - Loosen the soil
Before applying soil improvers remove all plant residues and weeds; now loosen the soil using a multi-tined, two-handed broad fork (aka grenilette). Forget digging, which only disturbs soil life.
Step 5 - soil improvement
Soil improvement goes hand in hand with soil preparation, for in order to obtain plentiful harvests you have to feed your crops plenty of nutrients.
Improving the soil
First improve the soil. Loam and clay are both heavy soils retaining lots of moisture. Loosen them somewhat by adding compost or soil improver Worm Delight. Sand on the other hand is a light and relatively poor soil, barely retaining moisture, or not at all. Improve sandy soils by adding Kilomix,Worm Delightand/or compost, which will also improve the soil's structure and prevent quick drainage.
Take your kitchen garden plan and check your plant needs, specifically per plant or plant group. For instance, cabbages are hungry wolves, almost always needing extra nutrients. So add organic nutrients into the soil, providing all soils with valuable plant feed. Carry out soil preparation in your kitchen garden during February and/or March.
Tip: should you stop growing vegetables after harvesting in late summer/early autumn, do sow some green fertilizers, being natural soil improvers!