If you’re just starting as a beginner gardener, here’s tips on how to prepare your soil for growing vegetables (no fancy equipment required). This post has affiliate links for your convenience – full disclosure here.
If you’ve been following along on Instagram, then you’ve seen my nerdy excitement about our new property and the gardening potential here.
We have one acre of land at our new house, and there is already an existing garden bed on the property. The plan was originally to remove it, but since we’re in the middle of an actual pandemic, things are a little different at the moment.
One of the big keys to a successful an bountiful vegetable garden is to PREPARE. So this post is all about how to prepare your garden beds for planting.
There’s a few considerations for when you’re planning out your vegetable garden. I hope that my researching on this topic can be helpful to you as you begin your gardening for the summer!
If you want raised garden beds:
I’d really love to make our own raised beds out of cedar (this is the wood you should use if you’re building your own raised garden beds, since it’s resistant to rot). BUT we are using what we’ve got and we will reevaluate in the next year or two if we want to reconfigure the garden layout or where it is on our property.
I found CaliKim on YouTube and she is an amazing resource for all things gardening! Here’s a good video she has for how to build a raised garden bed on the cheap.
You can also search on Facebook Marketplace for people who are selling raised garden beds already made. OR if you really don’t want to make your own (or don’t want to take a trip to the hardware store during this time…I really get that) then you can buy kits online. Click the pictures to go to the source to shop.
If you’re looking for cheap filler dirt, try calling around to local pool companies and asking if they have any dirt they need to get rid of. It will likely not be good quality soil, but if you need filler soil that can be mixed with supplements and compost, then it could work!
Clear out the weeds in your existing bed
Since we moved into a house that had an existing garden bed, I had quite a bit of work to do when it came to clearing the overgrown weeds.
I had built up the job to be bigger than it actually was…it took me less than 2 hours to make this transformation!
All of my tips & how I cleared it out and prepped the soil are in this video:
And yes – we will be building some kind of protection from critters in this area – just have to figure out how it will be configured since we are planning on adding to this garden eventually.
Decide if you want a weed barrier:
I didn’t know this was a divisive topic – but apparently it is!
I was originally going to put down weed barrier fabric BUT after doing some research, I realized that it might not be the best solution. Here’s some articles that might help you decide whether it’s right for you or not:
- The Landscape Fabric Weed Barrier Myth via Big Blog of Gardening
- Do not use weed control fabric in the garden via Northern Homestead
Prepare the soil for planting vegetables:
Once the beds are built, or your existing bed has been cleared, you will need to pay attention to the actual dirt itself.
First: make sure the soil is loose.
I used a pitchfork to break up the soil once I cleared the weeds, but a tiller is most definitely easier. However, I don’t have one of those and didn’t feel like it was worth it for us to buy one for year one of gardening. But who knows, I might change my mind down the road! This one is priced pretty well & has good reviews:
Using compost and other soil supplements:
Think of this stuff as “vitamins for your soil” – they’re not mandatory but can make a huge difference in the quality of your garden soil, and then the quality of the plants in your garden.
If you’re able to access compost dirt, then your garden will thank you! We’re just starting our compost pile right now, so we will not be able to have compost dirt to use while prepping our garden. BUT my parents have plenty of compost and we will be taking a few bins from their compost pile to our vegetable garden!
Here’s a good resource if you’re looking for more reasons of why you should put compost in your garden beds:
In addition to compost, you can also add some beneficial ingredients to your soil to prepare it for vegetables.
I am laughing that I actually was excited about making these purchases, but I am! Here’s the two things we bought to supplement our soil:
Earthworm castings (yes – I did just buy worm poop from Amazon):
Wool pellets for your garden (these help your soil retain moisture, which in turn means you will have to water less):
If you need to build a fence for your vegetable garden:
If your yard doesn’t already have a secure fence around the perimeter, then you’ll want to consider building a fence around your garden to keep out unwanted animals. We will be doing this next – and here’s some of the tutorials we’ll be drawing inspiration from:
Tutorial from Walking On Sunshine:
Via Owner and Builder Network:
Finally – you can plan out what will go in your garden:
While you’re prepping your soil for optimum vegetable growth, you can start planning where things will grow in your garden.
I found this program online and it has been SO helpful. It’s free for the first 7 days and then you pay a fee after that (I believe it’s $29 for 1 year). I’m in no way affiliated with them, but I thought it was such a cool resource and I had to share it!
This is what i have planned for our garden for this year. We might change some of it as we go along, but having a tentative plan is really helpful!
What I really like about this tool is that if you click on the “plant list”, it shows you when things need to be grown inside, planted into the garden, and then harvested. I thought that was really helpful for someone who is newer to vegetable gardening:
I hope that’s helpful for you! I can’t wait to get started by actually putting the plants in the ground, but for now, knowing that we have soil that is perfectly prepared for optimal plant growth, is the best feeling!
And while you’re waiting to plant your vegetables, you can come over and read all of the best flowers to grow in a cut flower garden so you have beautiful blooms to bring inside all spring and summer long!
Lois Christensen says
Thanks for including my article on building our first garden. Your article was filled with a ton of information as well!