The success of your planting depends on the first steps you take with the foundation of your garden bed – the soil! And in gardening, “making your bed” means preparing your soil for planting. Whether you are preparing a garden bed that has been planted in before or is brand new, City Floral Garden Center has some tips on the best methods of preparing your garden beds for springtime.
Start with a soil test! Determining the right pH balance and nutrient levels of your soil before you even get your hands dirty (literally) will help prolong the health and wellness of your planting. Too high of a pH (more alkaline) and your plants may not be able to take up the right nutrients even if they’re present in the soil; too low of a pH (more acidic) and the soil can become toxic to your plants. On a pH scale of 1 – 14, most vegetables and flowers prefer a 6 or 7 pH.
When you’re ready to begin working your planting area or garden bed, the soil should be moist when you start. Particularly if your soil is quite dry or cracked from the winter, turn on the hose and make the soil slightly damp (not too much as soggy soil is devoid of air pockets that are needed for planting). Damp soil will also make it easier when you begin turning over the soil with a spade or fork, which specifically is done to loosen the soil and make it well aerated.
When ‘turning over’ the soil, it’s best to go down to a depth of 12 inches – the deeper the better if you’re planning on planting strong root crops like carrots. During this process, integrate at least a couple inches of compost to add a rich layer of nutrients into the soil. Compost acts as an inexpensive fertilizer and keeps the soil more absorbent and flush with nutrients.
If you’re starting a new raised bed or working with an existing garden bed, City Floral Garden Center has a wide range of potting soils, composts, and other soil amendments to help you get started! Come into our greenhouse at 1440 Kearney Street in Denver if you have questions; our staff are thrilled to help out.
City Floral also sells Do-It-Yourself (DIY) soil test kits, as well as test kits that go to labs at Colorado State University.