Vegetable Garden Soil – The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

By Raymond Smith

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vegetable-garden-soil-guide

Are you going to prepare your vegetable garden soil or looking for a complete soil mix recipe?

This ultimate guide is the answer to what you need.

In fact, these are all the steps I took to have my wonderful vegetable garden.

So that…

If you want to eat your clean vegetables and fruits in around 30 days, you will love this guide.

Let's dive into this tutorial right now!

More...

Chapter #1: Determine Type of Soil

Determine-type-of-soil

Improving the soil requires you to have a foundation knowledge of soil texture.

But it is not as difficult as you think.

The information below will solve the soil problems you are getting stuck in.

The first question you might wonder is:

What is soil texture?

The texture of the soil is the ratio of sand, silt, and clay particles in it.

This ratio determines the water retention, drainage, aeration, ability to hold nutrients in the soil, and resistance to erosion.

With that…

Three Basic Particles That Make Up Your Soil

Three-basic-particles-that-make-up-your-vegetable-garden-soil

Soil usually consists of 3 basic types: sand, silt, and clay particles.

Diameter from 2 to 0.05 mm, is the largest of the 3 types of seeds.

Sand

Very coarse sand

2 – 0.05 mm

Coarse sand

1 – 0.5 mm

Medium sand

0.5 – 0.25 mm

Fine sand

0.25 – 0.1 mm

Very smooth sand

0.1 – 0.05 mm

The sand particles do not hold water.

There are gaps between them to allow air to circulate and carry oxygen to the roots.

Silt

The diameter ranges from 0.05 to 0.002 mmm, is a medium-sized particle.

It holds water better than sand and is also the most fertile of all three.

Silt helps the sand and clay mix effectively.

Clay

The diameter is less than 0.002 mm, very fine, and smallest particle size.

Clay particles are rich in nutrients and extremely well hydrated.

However, not many plants can grow in wet clay.

Top-soil

The topsoil usually has a higher amount of sand, silt, organic matter, and microorganisms. The subsoil layer usually has a higher clay and mineral salt ratio.

Classify Your Soil Based on The Ratio of Basic Particles

classify-your-soil-base-on-the-ratio-of-basic-particles

Types of soil are classified by the amount of sand, clay, and silt they contain.

Each geographic area will have different textures and soil types.

In general, we will have the following three main soil types:

Sandy soil

Sandy soils are common in arid areas, but many wet areas also have a lot of sand.

It is light, warm, dry, and tend to be acidic.

Sandy soils provide great space to allow oxygen to reach the roots.

Advantage

Disadvantage

Offering great aeration for roots growing.

Draining too quickly.

Maintaining soil texture to avoid subsidence.

Low nutrients.

Silty soil

You can find them along rivers or lakes.

Silty soils are light, moist and do not include clay minerals.

Advantage

Disadvantage

Silt soils drain better than clay and retain moisture better than sandy soils.

Easily compacted.

Contains many nutrients.

Too much silt can upset some ecosystems.

Agriculture has existed and developed in almost every country of the world, especially near deltas with large rivers. The Nile Delta in Egypt is a prime example of a highly fertile region. The abundance of silt, accreted every year through floods, has fed farmers there for thousands of years.

nile-delta

Clay soil

Usually accumulates in the subsoil layer.

Clay is a heavy soil that contains very fine clay mineral particles, which are flexible when wet and hard when dry.

They tend to be alkaline and lack organic matters.

Advantage

Disadvantage

The ability to hold water better than sandy soil and silt soil.

Drainage is extremely slow.

More nutritious than other soils

Most annuals, perennials, and vegetables do not have roots strong to force their way through dense clay.

pure-clay-mineral

Most pure clay minerals are white or light in color, but natural clay comes in various colors, such as reddish or brownish caused by some iron oxide.

Some other soil types:

Peat soil

Peat soils are rich in organic matter and retain a large amount of moisture, often imported into the garden to create the optimal soil for growing plants.

Peat-Soil

Chalky soil

chalky-soil

Chalky soils can be light or heavy but are always highly alkaline due to calcium carbonate or lime in their structure.

What is the bottom line?

Soil type determination base on the relative compositions of sand, silt, and clay particles. The most dominant part of the particle determines what kind of soil it is.

For example

Clay (usually more than 40% clay) is often poorly drained.

On the other hand, well-drained loam soil is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay in roughly equal proportions.

However, sandy silt soils have much more sand and much less clay than clay loam.

What Is the Best Type of Soil for A Vegetable Garden?

My answer is:

Loam soil

This is the best ideal soil for vegetable gardens.

This soil is fertile, easy to handle, drains well, and is perfect for microbial growth and plants.

They are also formed with the balance of three main soil types to reduce the negative effects of each type.

Using it, you will get…

  • Ideal habitat for beneficial microorganisms.
  • Creating a loose soil layer to help plants grow.
  • Allowing oxygen to move freely to the roots (aeration).
  • Retaining essential nutrients for growth.
  • Maintaining soil moisture to maximize crop productivity.

You have now completed chapter 1 of the vegetable garden soil tutorial.

In this chapter you have learned about three basic soil types and particles: sand, silt, and clay.

You also know that loam soil is the ideal type for your vegetable garden.

Good!

Before you start preparing the soil for growing vegetables, you need to know a few essential things.

These are common mistakes that beginners should avoid to saving effort, time, and money.

Let's check it out!

Chapter #2: Most gardening common mistakes that beginners usually make

most-gardening-comon-mistake-that-beginers-usually-make

Neglecting testing before preparing garden soil

Soil testing is the best way to know what your soil needs.

Thanks to the soil testing techniques, my soil was improved more efficiently.

Don't worry.

You will learn how to test the soil below.

Forgetting to add organic matters into the soil

Over a period, plants need more nutrients from the soil to thrive.

Therefore, we need to provide the necessary nutrients for plants to grow.

In this guide, I will show you how to add organic nutrients into the soil step by step.

Using inappropriate soil mix recipes

Mixing soil the wrong ways can lead to pH imbalance, which is harmful to plant growth.

Seeds and roots will not grow in the soil too acidic.

Making an appropriate soil mix is not as difficult as you think.

Scroll down further for more soil mix recipes details.

Hasty decision

Sowing seeds hastily but lack of preparation causes poor plant growth.

Skipping basic steps can cause uncontrollable problems.

All of that comes from your passion for gardening.

However,  you should relax and follow this ultimate guide to have your dream garden.

That's all.

This chapter is about four common mistakes that beginners should avoid.

You need to take all these notes in mind.

And without further ado, 

Let's move into the next chapter - soil testing.

Chapter #3: Vegetable garden soil testing

vegetable-garden-soil-testing

It's no secret that the soil is the most important part of the garden.

It not only produces healthy plants but also contains information for us to grow a better garden.

So that check the soil is a necessity before you want to plant vegetables on it.

Test your soil pH

test-your-vegetable-garden-soil-PH

A suitable soil pH range will help your plants grow by absorbing nutrients better.

Most plants thrive in soils with a pH between 5.5 and 7 (Apple tree: 5 – 6.5; Potatoes: 4.5 – 6; Orchids: 4.5 – 5.5; Vegetable: 6 – 7).

Reaching a balance is of the essence in gardening matters.

There are different ways you can test your soil pH.

Simple pH test

simple-pH-test

A quick way to find out the pH of your soil is to check it with a kitchen supply.

  • Step #1: Use a hand shovel to dig about 4 to 6 inches deep and take soil samples.
  • Step #2: Make sure to remove the rocks, sticks, and other debris from the soil.
  • Step #3: Put about 1 cup of soil in a clean glass container and add enough water to turn the soil into mud.
  • Step #4: Check for acidic or alkaline.

Alkaline

Acidic

Add 1/2 cup of vinegar and stir slightly.

If the soil fizzes, foams, or bubbles, your soil is alkaline.

Add 1/2 cup of baking soda, and stir slightly.

If the soil fizzes, foams, or bubbles, your soil is acidic.

The bottom line:

If you test your soil using vinegar and baking soda and neither test produces many effects, your soil is probably in the neutral range. No further testing is needed.

Precise pH measurement

precise-PH-measurement

If you want a precise pH measurement, head to the nearest home center or nursery and pick up a testing kit.

There are many tools to choose from, such as: pH Test Strips, Soil pH Chemical Test Kits, Digital Soil pH Pocket Testers, and Portable Soil pH Meters.

When used correctly, such kits are reliable.

Determining soil drainage characteristics

If the water drains out of the roots too quickly, your vegetables will wither even if they are watered regularly.

And if the water doesn't drain, many plants will drown and rot from the roots upwards.

To test your soil's drainage:

determining-soil-drainage-characteristics
  • Step #1: Dig a hole

Dig a hole about 4 inches - 12 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep.

The diameter of the hole should be uniform from top to bottom with the bottom being flat.

  • Step #2: Fill the hole with water

First, fill the hole with water to the top and let it stand for at least an hour to pre-wet the soil.

Then, refill the hole to within a couple of inches of the top.

Do not allow water to overflow the hole.

  • Step #3: Measure average drainage rates

Place a stick across the top of the hole and use your ruler or measuring tape to mark periodic drops in water level.

You should leave the hole to drain for at least 1 hour.

A more extended period (2 to 3 hours) will give a more accurate average drainage rate.

  • Step #4: Refer to the results

Determine the average drop in water level per hour and refer to the table below to interpret the results.

If the water level in the hole drops…

Your soil was…

Less than a one-half inch per hour

Poorly drained and suited to wet species

One-half inch to one inch per hour

Moderately drained

Acceptable for many species, including wet species

More than one inch per hour

Well drained and suitable for all species, including sensitive species.

Check your soil texture

Check-your-vegetable-garden-soil-texture

Soil texture is the ratio of sand, silt, and clay particles that make up your soil.

You should know and direct your efforts toward improving soil texture.

Because soil texture profoundly affects soil drainage, water holding capacity, soil temperature, and soil erosion.

Good soil texture also helps to increase fertility and improve crop yields significantly.

There are many ways to test soil texture, but we will come to:

Simple soil texture test

Observe

simple-soil-test-observe

If, after a rain, you have puddles of water in certain spots in your yard that last longer than in other sections of the yard, the soil in those spots is likely to be mostly clay.

If your soil sticks to shoes and garden tools like glue, form big clods that are not easy to separate, and crusts over and cracks in dry weather, you have clay.

Brown patches on your lawn in midsummer while the rest of the yard is green may signify that the soil under the grass is predominantly sand.

The dry crushing test

the-dry-crushing-test

First, take a small sample of dry soil in your hand.

Then, crush it between your fingers.

  • If there is little resistance and the sample falls into dust, fine sand, loamy sand, or very little clay is present.
  • If there is medium resistance, it is silty clay or sandy clay.
  • If there is excellent resistance, it is clay.

The shaking test

The-shaking-test

First, fill a glass jar with a lid halfway to the top with soil and fill it with water until it is 3/4 full.

Then, put on the lid, shake the jar vigorously to blend the mixture thoroughly, and set aside.

Finally, check your jar after 6 to 10 hours.

The soil and water will have separated and settled into layers.

  • The larger sand particles are heaviest and settle at the bottom.
  • Followed by a layer of silt.
  • Then topped by a layer of clay.

Check your soil texture correctly

The easiest way

First, collect your soil sample from your garden.

Then take it to your County Extension Office (a branch of the USDA), state land-grant university extension services, or various independent soil testing laboratories for testing.

Using the soil texture triangle

using-the-soil-texture-triangle
  • Step #1: Continue the shaking test, measure the height of each layer and the overall height of the soil (including all layers).
  • Step #2: Translate these measurements into percentages for each component by dividing the height of each component by height of the sample.
  • Step #3: Use the U.S.D.A Natural Resources Conservation Service's Soil Textural Triangle to determine the soil type.
  • Step #4: Drawing lines to represent the percentages of the three components. The point where they converge is the soil texture.

That's all you need to do to test your vegetable garden soil texture.

You can start with simple tests and improve your skills over time.

Either way, it is an important step that cannot be overlooked.

You have now completed the third chapter. Let's go on.

Chapter #4: Prepare your soil

prepare-your-garden-soil

After testing the soil for the vegetable garden, we will enter the soil preparation step.

In this chapter, you will learn how to create the right soil structure for growing vegetables and correct them if your soil is not in balance.

The more you prepare the soil for growing vegetables, the freer you will be in the future.

Let's go.

Soil amendment

Soil amendments are materials that are added to the soil to change it in some way.

Amendments can be divided into two main categories: organic (compost, aged manure, wood…) and inorganic (sand, perlite, lime, and vermiculite).

If your tests show alkaline or very acidic soil, you can blend in amendments to bring the pH into a range suitable for the plants you want to grow.

Your soil is too acidic

soil-is-too-acidic-vs-alkaline

You have common options for treatment are wood ashes, agricultural lime, and eggshells.

It will help raise the soil's pH, making it less acidic and more alkaline.

Your soil is too alkaline

Soil-is-too-alkaline-vs-acidic

If your soil is alkaline, you can lower its pH (or make it more acidic) by using several products.

They can be sphagnum peat, elemental sulfur, aluminum sulfate, iron sulfate, acidifying nitrogen, and organic mulches.

Create your soil structure

Good soil texture should be crumbly to the touch, not clumpy or sandy.

We are all beginners, so learning how to create the proper soil structure will allow us to improve the skill.

Step #1: Remove all sticks, weeds, roots, rocks, debris, and other material.

Step #2: Double digging vs tilling

  • Double digging
Double-digging

Double digging is a method of preparing the soil to a greater depth.

This is a technique that French market gardeners invented in the 19th century.

Double digging relieves compaction, improves drainage, and minimizes stratification.

All you need to do are:

First, removing the topsoil layer.

Start double digging at one end of a bed and move backward.

Dig a trench as wide across as you want, but the trench should be 9-12 inches deep with a spade.

Remove this topsoil and pile it up into a wheelbarrow or at the end of the bed.

Second, breaking down the subsoil.

No one ever said the digging had to be done by hand.

You can dig with a fork or a rototiller.

Anyway, we need to improve the tilth of this subsoil.

tilth

Tilth is defined as the physical condition of the soil as related to its ease of tillage, fitness as a seedbed, and its promotion of seedling emergence and root penetration.

Third, add organic matter.

In this step, you will add the organic material you have prepared in advance in the trench.

Finally, rinse and repeat.

Dig the second trench.

The topsoil from the second trench is going to replace the topsoil from the first trench.

Continue this method until you get the last trench.

Fill the last trench with the topsoil you dug up from the first one.

Double digging for initial soil preparation really does a good job if your soil is compacted. If your soil is nice, loose, and loamy, you do not want to double dig because that will disturb the earthworms.

Double-digging-for-initial-soil-preparation
  • Tilling
tilling

Tilling is simply turning over and breaking up the soil.

The best time to till the soil is in spring or autumn when the soil is dry and warm enough.

Tilling will cultivate the soil 8-10 inches deep if you create a new garden in an area where the soil is very poor.

You can also till at a shallower level of 4-8 inches when mixing organic matter into your beds.

In this step, you should use electric garden tools to save your effort and time.

Step #3: Raised garden bed

raised-garden-bed

You should grow vegetables on an in-ground row bed or raised bed if you have a large garden.

Raised garden bed not only helps your soil aerate and drain water better but also your beds are never walked on and do not get compacted.

You can easily make it at home or buy it from an online store.

Add nutrients to the soil

Add-Nutrients-To-The-Soil

When you give the soil nutrients, you are also feeding the plants.

The regular supply of nutrients also results in improved crop yields.

You can add nutrients to the soil by:

  • Mixing it with the soil.
  • Spreading mulch.

You should use it regularly because both ways are good.

You have now completed chapter four.

In this chapter, you've learned about soil amendment, creating your soil structure, and adding nutrients to the soil.

Now let's explore what nutrients you need to use in the next chapter.

Chapter #5: Your organic matter

your-organic-matter

In the previous chapter, you learned how to add nutrients to your soil.

Once you treat the soil well, it will treat your plants well.

And thanks to the organic compost that I have added before, my vegetable garden is so green that I can use it more often.

Because of that, we are going to learn further what those nutrients are in this chapter.

What is organic matter?

Organic matter consists of plant and animal material that is in the process of decomposing.

When it has fully decomposed, it is called humus.

It serves as a reservoir of nutrients and water in your soil.

However, you may be wondering:

What is the difference between organic material and organic matter?

To answer that question, read the table below.

Organic material

Organic matter

Anything basically that occurs and is alive in nature can be considered organic material.

To become organic matter, organic material must be decomposed into humus.

Humus is organic material that microorganisms have converted to a resistant state of decomposition.

Why should I add organic matter to my vegetable garden?

adding-organic-matter

Organic matter is a material that gardeners use as fertilizer to help their plants grow.

The impact of organic matter is not rich in nutrients and not fast to reach the results immediately as inorganic fertilizers or chemicals.

When applied to the garden, they act as a slow-release biofertilizer, feeding your plants over a longer time.

However, the benefits organic matter offers make chemical fertilizers incomparable.

Using them regularly, you will get:

  • Organic matter helps you correct soil imbalances in your vegetable garden.
  • Organic matter does not build up to harmful residues and causes pollution due to runoff from rain or irrigation like inorganic fertilizer.
  • Organic matter improves soil structure so that water and air can move freely through the soil.
  • Organic matter also feeds the microorganisms and insects that make up the balanced ecosystem of the soil.
  • Organic matter increases nutrient content in the soil like: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium... but it also builds up copper, iron, zinc, and manganese.
  • Organic matter prevents plant diseases, pests and protects plants for healthy growth.

Not only do you get great benefits from organic matter, but making them is also very simple.

First, you need to pile organic materials in layers in a heap or a compost bin.

Then, adding soil and moisture into the mixture, you created earlier.

Finally, you will get a rich, dark sort of humus that enriches and create favorable conditions for any vegetable to grow.

That's all.

Some popular organic materials you should add to your vegetable garden

Compost

Compost

Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help your plants grow.

Decomposing organic materials make it into simpler organic and inorganic compounds in a process called composting.

At its simplest level, composting requires gathering a mix of 'Greens' and 'Browns'.

  • Browns are more woody materials rich in carbon-like stalks, paper, wood chips, dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  • Greens are nitrogen-rich materials , such as leaves, food scraps, grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.

Good compost is rich in plant nutrients and beneficial organisms.

Fish-Bones

You should not mix with the following materials: 

Invasive weeds; Meat/fish/bones; Fat/oil/grease; Dairy products; Cooked foods (attracts animals), Pet waste (dog, cat), Plastics, Metals, Glass. Toxic material, Charcoal.

Mushroom compost

mushroom-compost

The mushroom compost is made by mushroom growers using organic materials such as hay, straw, corn cobs and hulls, and poultry or horse manure.

When you blend into the soil, it is like a type of slow-release, organic plant fertilizer.

Mushroom compost provides a readily available source of organic material, enriches the soil, and supplies nutrients for the healthy growth of plants.

It also increases the water-holding capacity of the soil, which decreases your watering needs.

However, the soluble salts and other nutrients in fresh, undiluted mushroom compost are too concentrated for germinating seeds, young plants, and other salt-sensitive plants.

To avoid killing and stressing germinating seeds before using it on young plants, you should:

  • Mixing mushroom compost with vegetable garden soil.
  • Make mushroom compost tea to use as a liquid fertilizer/ foliar spray.

Manure

composted-manure

Manure is simply the waste products of animals (poultry, cattle, or horses) that have been composted to remove any pathogens and break them down.

There are two common types of manure in use:

  • Fresh manure

Fresh manure typically has high amounts of ammonium or soluble nitrogen.

Sometimes, its concentration of nutrients may be too high for plants and burn them.

You must never use fresh manure on fruits and vegetables especially when growing crops where the edible portion is in contact with the soil.

If you need to use it, you should add it at least four months before harvest or in the fall.

  • Composted manure

Composting manure eliminates some of the problems of fresh manure and leaves the more stable organic forms.

These manures used as fertilizers are typically from herbivores such as cows, sheep, chickens, etc.

However, you should not use cat or dog manure.

These types of manures are unsuitable for the garden or the compost pile, as these are likely to carry parasites.

In general, animal manures composts are rich in plant nutrients such as Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K).

It is a valuable soil amendment because it contributes to the soil fertility by adding organic matter and nutrients to your garden.

Peat moss

peat-moss

Peat moss is a dead fibrous material that forms when mosses and other living material decompose in peat bogs.

It first became available in the mid-1900s, and gardeners use peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil.

It has an acid pH (3,5 – 4,5) and one application of peat moss lasts for several years.

Peat moss holds its weight in moisture several times and releases the water to the plant's roots as needed.

It doesn't add any nutrients to the soil but holds onto nutrients so they aren’t rinsed out of the soil when you water the plant.

Although peat moss has many benefits, it is considered unsustainable because peat moss takes hundreds of years to be created in nature.

As an alternative to that, people used...

Coconut coir

coconut-coir

Coconut coir (or coconut fiber) is a byproduct of fiber processing and has become a favored alternative to peat moss over the past 20 years.

It is everything in between the shell and the outer coating of the coconut.

In general, coir is slowly decomposed, sterile, and free of weed seeds.

It has a less acidic soil pH ( 5.5 to 6.8 pH).

Coir is rich in potassium (K) and the micronutrients iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu).

It also improves air porosity in soils, as well as improving moisture retention.

The types of coir you often see are:

  • Coco peat

The "peat" of coconut coir looks like finely ground coconut or peat moss.

Because it can let out salts that will kill your plant, you should mix with your soil to use.

  • Coco fiber

Coconut fiber adds air pockets that your growing media needs to provide oxygen to the root zone in your soil.

However, coconut fibers do break down rather quickly, so the air pockets will decrease over time.

  • Coco chips

Coconut chips are a natural type of expanded clay pellet.

They're large enough to create air pockets and absorb water so your plants won't dehydrate completely.

You should use the right mixture of these three types for best results when using coir for your vegetable garden.

Now you have completed chapter five. In this chapter, you have learned about the common types of organic materials.

It is time to add what you have learned to your soil.

Let's move on to the next chapter - the soil mix recipe.

Chapter #6: Vegetable garden soil mix recipes

vegetable-garden-soil-mix-recipes

In the previous chapters, you learned what qualities of the soil are suitable for growing vegetables.

They drain well, stay moist for a long time, contain many nutrients, and have a well-balanced pH.

But in gardening, no one is completely right.

Because of that, you need to learn, practice, and improve your skills over time.

And to make it easier for you, let's learn how to create your own soil mix recipe.

Determine the characteristics of the ideal soil type

Before you start mixing soil, you have to know what kind of soil you need.

And as you know, the ideal soil for growing vegetables has such characteristics as:

  • Good drainage
  • Moisture-retentive
  • Anti-subsidence
  • Contains many nutrients
  • Create a suitable living environment for microorganisms

That's all.

And what you should do is balance those things when you want to create your own new soil mix recipe.

Soil mix recipe ingredients

Drainage and anti-subsidence ingredients

  • Coconut coir
  • Vermiculite
  • Perlite
vermiculite-and-perlite

Vermiculite and perlite are lightweight materials used to aerate and improve soil structure. It also increases the ability to hold water.

Moisturizing ingredients

  • Mushroom
  • Peat moss

Nutrition ingredients

  • Compost
  • Manure
  • High-quality topsoil
  • Vermicompost

Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil (usually between 2 to 10 inches in depth) that contains most of the ground’s nutrients and fertility.

Buying high-quality topsoil if you do not want to make your own soil mix recipes will be a great start.

buying-topsoil
vermicompost

Vermicompost (worm castings) is the product of the decomposition process that relies on earthworms and microorganisms to convert organic materials to a valuable soil amendment and source of nutrients.

Other ingredients

  • Leaves
leaves

Shred the leaves, wet them down, and add to your soil.

It is an efficient source of carbon and nitrogen in the long run.

  • Mineralized Rock Dust
mineralized-rock-dust

Rock dust is pulverized rock. It can be artificial or occur naturally.

Rock dust is not a fertilizer, for it lacks the qualifying levels of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

However, it contains minerals and trace elements widely used in organic farming practices.

The main purpose of rock dust is for microbes to attach, to help break down the soil and give plants more nutrients.

  • Ground bark
ground-bark

It is made out of tree bark shredded into fine, medium, and large pieces for top dressing your beds.

Bark mulch provides a lot of benefits to your garden.

Besides trapping moisture in the soil, it also suppresses weed growth.

Bark mulch protects the soil from compacting and insulates plants from extreme hot & cold temperatures.

So that adding a layer of bark mulch keeps plants warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.

  • Mycorrhizae (mycorrhiza)
mycorrhiza

A mycorrhiza is a symbiotic association between a green plant and a fungus.

These specialized fungi colonize plant roots and extend far into the soil.

Mycorrhizal fungal filaments in the soil are extensions of root systems and are more effective in nutrient and water absorption than the roots.

The key benefits that mycorrhizae provide to growers are root system enhancement, improved nutrient efficiency, and increased water absorption & utilization.

  • Rice hulls
rice-hulls

Rice hulls (or rice husks) are the hard-protecting coverings of grains of rice.

Parboiled rice hulls have a pH near neutral to slightly alkaline.

They are among the most sustainable soil amendments because they help improve drainage, water holding capacity, and aeration.

Rice hulls are the perfect replacement for perlite and vermiculite because it provides a less dusty mixing environment, lower essential cost,and decomposition over time.

  • Kelp meal
kelp-meal

Kelp meal is made from dried ocean seaweed that is then ground up into a meal-type product.

The benefits of kelp are that it is a completely natural, organic product and a source of over 67 vitamins, amino acids, and trace minerals, or micro-nutrients, including Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Manganese, Copper, Iron, and Zinc.

Because kelp is fully sustainable, it is used to encourage healthier plant growth and promote greater fruit and vegetable yields.

When you are looking for a natural organic soil amendment to be used in your vegetable garden, kelp meal is a great choice not to be missed.

How to make my soil mix recipes?

how-to-make-my-soil-mix-recipes

If you have come this far, you're an explorer.

And in the spirit of discovery, you also know that nothing is absolutely right or wrong.

So is the soil mixing recipe.

And to start with, you should forget everything you have learned.

Remember only the features you want your soil to have:

  • Moisture-retentive
  • Anti-subsidence
  • Many nutrients

That's all.

The easiest way is to buy topsoil and compost, in bags or not, mix them and add to your vegetable garden.

But you know it is not interesting, right?

So that let's get started.

1/3 For All

one-third-for-all

1/3FA simply means you balance three features moisture-retentive, anti-subsidence, and many nutrients.

All you need to do is mix the ingredients you already know in equal proportions.

For example

1/3FA = 1/3 Peat moss (moisture-retentive) + 1/3 Vermiculite (anti-subsidence + 1/3 Compost (nutrients)

Another example

1/3FA = 1/3 Mushroom + 1/3 Perlite + 1/3 Compost

1/3FA = 1/3 Peat moss + 1/3 Rice hulls + 1/3 Compost

I think this recipe would be suitable if you grow vegetables in a garden bed.

It will give you good results.

If you are planting vegetables in your garden, you may need to consider the budget by choosing cheap ingredients and mix with the soil you prepared.

Raised bed recipes

raised-bed-recipes

There are a few other ways to create your own soil mix.

Here are some of them.

50% High-quality Topsoil + 40% Compost + 10% Other ingredients

Or

50% High-quality Topsoil + 30% Compost + 20% Other ingredients.

Other ingredients you can choose like 20% organic matter or 10% vermicompost.

This recipe is for a garden bed that you have prepared earlier.

With it, you can have a great green garden, or you can have a bad memory.

It all depends on the quality of the topsoil you buy from the manufacturer.

Because of that you should do a little bit of research and choose topsoil carefully before buying.

Your Own Recipes

You should not stick to a certain theory, especially in gardening.

So that create your own recipe with what you've learned.

Just remember you might be wrong the first time, but maybe it will be right next time.

Keep making and correct mistakes.

But you will need ...

Soil mix tips

soil-mix-tips
  • pH

After mixing your soil, be sure to test and adjust the pH to medium.

It will help maximize your performance and create the right environment for microorganisms to live in.

  • Starting seeds

Light and fine-textured mixes are best for use when starting seeds and rooting cuttings.

  • Compost

Take good care of the compost because compost is the source that will provide most of the nutrition for your vegetables.

  • Gardening habits

Soil mixing is also related to your gardening habits.

If you find yourself watering regularly, add a few ingredients to help drain the water quickly.

If you are busy at work, good moisturizing ingredients are something you should add more to save time watering your plants.

That's all.

Now you are finished with chapter six.

After going through this chapter, you have learned how to create your soil mix recipes.

You are also closed to completing this ultimate tutorial.

Let's go to the last part and finish it.

Chapter #7: Improve and maintain your soil

improve-and-maintain-your-soil

Now you have learned how to create a soil mix recipe to grow your own vegetables.

Good!

However, having one positive result and maintaining that positive result are two completely different things.

And you know

Doesn't it make sense if you cannot maintain the results you put in sweat, effort, and money over time, right?

Because of that, I have a few suggestions for you to not only maintain but improve the quality of your garden even further.

Till less and avoid walking on your soil

till-less-and-avoid-walking-on-your-soil

Tilling soil too often causes erosion and destroys the natural environment of microorganisms.

And stepping on garden soil will compact it.

So that you should create permanent garden beds and pathways to avoid those problems.

You may be wondering:

How often do I no longer need to touch my soil?

Well, if this is your first time, tilling will be required for an unbalanced garden.

But if you've been maintaining it for two months, it's good enough to grow on its own.

Regularly add organic materials and compost

regularly-add-organic-materials-and-compost

You need to continually add organic material and compost to prevent your garden from returning to its heavy clay state.

Moreover, plants need a various nutrients for optimum health like us, and you know compost has them a lot.

You can add a layer of old manure or compost over the soil to let it decay through the fall and winter.

Or you can also work shredded leaves or compost into the top few inches of soil.

Anyway, instead of cleaning your garden down to the soil line each fall, you can allow leaves and other plant material to decay naturally.

It will become part of the ongoing ecosystem of good garden soil, and there will be little additional work you need to do.

Check your soil periodically

check-your-soil-periodically

After a season or so, it is good idea to collect a soil sample and test it.

Why?

Because you need to make sure your soil has any nutrient deficiencies or pH problems.

The easiest way is to send it to local extension service, garden center, or landscaping office.

A simple test from them can determine what type of soil you have.

You can also do it yourself if you have enough knowledge of soil testing.

But anyway, you need to make sure your soil is in pH balance, has good drainage and has many nutrients for your vegetables.

That is all.

Just a few notes for you on the path of gardening that you will continue later in this article.

Congratulations!

You have completed the tutorial.

Conclusion

That's my ultimate guide to create your vegetable garden soil.

In this guide, you have learned what type of soil is, how to test your soil, and create your own soil mix recipes.

Now it is your turn.

What chapter do you want to practice first?

Or maybe you have the ratio of your recipes after this guide.

Anyway, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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