See a World in a Grain of Sand and Heaven in a Wildflower – William Blake

Your Turn: Spring is here – What do I need to do to get my garden soil ready? – L. Graham Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY

My Turn: Just like any successful indoor project, preparation before planting pays off literally for years.  Granted it is more fun to plunge a plant into the ground straight away, but I beg you  – prepare first.

Hands down your best investment is to get your soil tested.  Get instructions and soil sample boxes from  your local Cooperative Extension service ( The evaluation is FREE in my state, but I’ve heard some offices charge $5 to $20 depending upon the analysis.

Don’t rely on visual clues. Bad dirt looks like good dirt.

Unbeknownst to you, plenty of essential nutrients can be out of whack. And balanced pH, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the four key building blocks for your gardening success.

The happiest garden soil is that which is enriched organically. Humus (rotted leaves and such) provides a critical framework for minerals to bond to. Organics also nourish the real heavy-lifters – the microbes and bacteria.

Here’s an excellent ‘How-to’ guide to improve and cultivate your garden soil quality. In clear language it covers  mulches, compost and even, compost tea!

It’s called Teaming with Microbes. I think in fact it’s an essential book for understanding your soil web and growing your garden.

Finally, these critters have a better chance to flourish if you avoid watering with tap water.

Then you’ll be good to grow.

I’m curious, what organic stuff do you add to improve your soil?

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