Step #3: Prepare Your Soil

Next up, check your soil. Poor-quality soil can throw a monkey wrench into even the best gardener’s most valiant efforts. What characterizes good soil? A high-quality soil for gardening must be:

• Well-aerated, which means air circulates through it well. Dense soil, like clay, is often too thick for roots to grow properly and doesn’t drain well.
• Free of stones and other obstructions.
• Soil should not be mostly sand.
• Rich in organic matter, such as compost or aged manure.

Organic matter provides nutrients to plants. When a garden is rich in these resources, the soil itself will provide nutrients for the plants to grow, which means that artificial fertilizers are often unnecessary.

Simple tests are available from any garden center to check the quality of your soil, including its pH. Generally speaking, most plants thrive in soil with a pH that is slightly acidic.

(There are exceptions to this, however, such as blueberries, which love an acidic soil, and beets, which enjoy alkaline conditions.) Be sure to check the package of the plant that you wish to grow to insure that your soil meets all of its needs.