Preparing your dirt for your seeds

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on November 8, 2010

Planting a garden requires some preparation of the soil in which the vegetables will grow.  Scratching a furrow with a hoe doesn’t work very well if you want good, healthy vegetables.  Some preparation up front will reap a lot of benefits later.

First you have to get to the dirt.  If there is grass covering your plot, you will have to dig it out.  The temptation to till it under is understandable, but that is a big mistake.  Tilling cuts the grass and weeds into small pieces.  In effect, you sprig your plat and the grass will return with a vengeance and overwhelm your plants.

Once you have clean dirt, you need to till it loose to a depth of six inches.  The dirt should be free of clods and rocks.  It isn’t quite ready to plant in yet, though.

Next, spread three inches of compost on the plot.  Compost should be rich and dark and smell like good, clean dirt.  If you can see anything but that, the compost isn’t finished and you should return it to the store.

Till the compost in to the dirt until the compost is evenly spread throughout the six inches of loose soil.  The dirt should be a rich color with lots of organic matter in it.  Now you plow it into furrows and get it ready to plant.

The preceding steps should be done about three weeks before planting.  This allows the soil to settle before you plant.  Now you can make a rut the proper depth for each type of seed in each row.  Plant the seed and water it in.  Happy gardening.

Gardenbookfrontcoverthumbnail For more help gardening, buy my book, Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up
Available in print or ebook from or other retailers, this book walks you from choosing the site of your garden all the way through what to do after the harvest. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend today! 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Stan Horst, Garden Benches November 8, 2010 at 7:35 pm

The process described in this article really does help. I would add one item to the list of things to do–test the soil. Take a soil sample to your local garden center or send it off. They’ll be able to tell you if the pH is out of balance, or what nutrients are needed. We did this along with adding three inches of mushroom compost this year, and our garden went absolutely crazy!

Stan Horst
Stan Horst, Garden Benches recently posted..Oxford Garden Classic Garden Bench SetMy Profile


Stephanie Suesan Smith November 9, 2010 at 8:39 am

That is true, you need a soil test. But I cover that in a separate post, so didn’t include it here. In fact, if you sign up for my mailing list, you receive an eBook that walks you through the whole process, from site selection to post harvest plot care.


Steve November 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Oh goodie, I was going to leave a comment on another blog to ask for ‘very’ basic tips to get rid of weed. Thanks for that, and for the pleasant time.. I like it here and I am absolutely sure I am going to learn tons of things from you! Keep doing what you’re doing, appreciate it a lot!


nik from heirloom vegetable seeds March 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Thanks for providing some great tips in preparing the soil for your seeds. I also use my handy-dandy soil test kit to measure the pH balance in the soil. This article is especially helpful to first time gardeners who think it’s as simple as putting seeds in the ground.


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