Anthropological and linguistics articles from University of Western Australia

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Good Soil Preparation by Marcia Helene Hewitt

Good Soil by Marcia Helene Hewitt B. A . (Environmental Anthropology) UWA

In the same way that people & pets need vitamins and minerals, vegetables and fruit require good, well prepared soil. Good soil preparation ensures your garden has a good start and achieves maximum potential.

Soil preparation takes time, so start several weeks before planting. You can test your soil to see how much of the three vital nutrients are there: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. You can purchase a home soil testing kit from a garden shop. Your local suburb extension service can also test your soil for you.

Amend the soil’s pH based on the result of your test. If your pH is low, add LIME. If the pH is too high, add SULFER or peat moss. The next step is to
add lots of fresh organic material. You can add greensand or kelp meal if it is deficient in potassium.

Every soil needs new organic matter to break down. Add garden compost from your own bin or purchase it from a garden center. In addition you can add grass clippings, leaves or straw. These things add nutrients to the soil as they break down.

It’s good to loosen soil. Loosening it allows proper aeration. Till the soil down approx. 16 inches to properly loosen it. It is possible to rent motorised tillers from a garden center if the area you are working is too large for spade digging alone. You can get rid of weeds by spreading black weed paper or an old bed sheet over the area for a week before planting.

Vegetables like good drainage and a moderately fine texture. Steer clear of large trees as their roots will compete with the vegetables for space, nutrients and water.


Abawi, G.S. and Widmer, T.L. 2000. Impact of soil health management practices on soil borne pathogens, nematodes, and root disease of vegetable crops.
Applied Soil Ecology 15: 37-47

Albiach, R. Canet, R. Pomares, F. and Ingelmo, F. 2000. Microbial biomass content and enzymatic activities after application of organic amendments to a horticultural soil.
Bioresource Technology 75: 43-48.

Baur, A.J. 1934. Effect of composting on the chemical and biological change in peat.
Journal of American Social of Agronomy 820-830.

Brito-Alvarez, M.A. Gagne, S. and Antoun, H. 1995. Effect of compost on rhizosphere microflora of the tomato and on the incidence of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 61: 194-199


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