Well-balanced, healthy garden loam looks fluffy because it is full of decomposed organic matter. Soil that is too dense, heavy and clay-like to plant a successful vegetable garden is improved by adding compost, a decomposed organic matter that is dark brown and has the consistency of coffee grounds. Soil with compost added becomes fluffy and porous so vegetable roots can spread easily. Sandy soil is made fluffy by the addition of organic matter also.
Prepare and Plant
Scoop up a handful of soil and let it fall through your fingers to the ground. Notice if it clumps tightly or falls loosely like sand. Clay soil has high nutrient content but does not drain well, causing vegetable roots to rot. Sandy soil drains water too fast and vegetables may suffer heat stress in hot weather.
Add 2 to 3 inches of organic materials to the soil. Dig it in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Problem soils are corrected by adding organic matter such as homemade compost. Other sources of organic matter are dry leaves, bark, sawdust, peat moss, straw, grass clippings or green manure cover crops.
Create rows or companion planting groups for vegetable seeds. Corn, beans and squash grow well together arranged in small hills. Put seeds in the ground according to the planting depth guide on the package.
Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch around vegetable seedlings when they reach 3 to 5 inches in height. Mulch decomposes into soil slowly over the growing season and improves its texture and structure.
Continue creating fluffy soil after harvest by leaving the stalks and leaves on the ground to decay. Add dry leaves or compost over them to conserve the soil over winter. This prevents erosion and adds nutrients. Soil will be dark and pliable at the next planting time.