Soil Preparation for Vegetables


Fresh-grown vegetables can be healthier than store-bought since nutrients in the plant have less time to break down. Also, gardeners have complete control over how the vegetables are grown, including the kinds of nutrients that go into the vegetables and chemicals averted. To maximize the vegetable yield and nutritional value of vegetables, prepare the soil properly so the plant stays healthy and full of valuable nutrients.

Step 1

Use soil that is a mixture of clay, sand and humus. Too much clay will slow down water drainage, while too much sand will cause water to wash away plant nutrients. Nevertheless, some plants do better in soil that contains more clay, while some plants do better with more sand.

Step 2

Till the soil using a garden spade. Do not work soil that is wet, as the soil will become compacted, causing the soil to become water logged.

Step 3

Add animal manure, green manure or compost to the soil. About 5 percent of soil should be organic matter, which draws beneficial organisms and increases the amount of water the soil (and therefore the plant) can hold.

Step 4

Use a pH strip to test soil acidity. Most vegetables thrive in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, which makes it easier for the roots to absorb nutrients. If the soil pH is above 7, use lime to reduce alkalinity. If the pH is below 6, use elemental sulfur to reduce acidity.

Step 5

Add fertilizer with potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen a few weeks before planting. Choose liquid or granule fertilizers and chemical or organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers can include decaying matter such as grass clippings and leaves. Adding micronutrients such as calcium and magnesium can help plants grow, though the soil sometimes has adequate amounts of these nutrients. Fertilizer is especially important with vegetable gardens, since they will determine how nutritious the vegetables become.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't grow vegetables around chemicals that are toxic to humans or the vegetables will absorb these toxins and poison human consumers.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil
  • Garden spade
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • pH strip


  • Home and Garden: Prepare and Improve Soil for a Vegetable Garden
  • Extension: Soil Preparation and the Vegetable Garden
Keywords: Soil preparation, Garden spade, Animal manure, Green manure

About this Author

Charles Pearson has written as a freelancer for two years. He has a B.S. in Literature from Purdue University Calumet and is currently working on his M.A. He has written three ebooks so far: Karate You Can Teach Your Kids, Macadamia Growing Handout and The Raw Food Diet.