Growing a garden from seed is cheaper than purchasing nursery seedlings. Whether you are starting your seeds indoors or directly in the garden, good soil is important for both the seedlings and the adult plant. Without preparation, the soil in your yard is lprobably not capable of producing the best plants, and in fact may damage them. Soil must drain well yet retain enough moisture for the plant's water needs while also supplying much of the nutrition the plant needs. Starting your seeds in good soil supplies these needs and ensures plant health.
Preparing Potting Soil
Sterilize pots before starting seeds indoors so any disease microbes on the pots don't get into the soil. Wash each pot in a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water. Rinse afterward.
Combine one part compost, one part vermiculite and one part peat moss. Use fully matured compost from your own compost heap or purchase sterilized compost from a garden center.
Fill each pot to within 3/4-inch of the rim with the good soil mixture. Water the soil until it is equally moist throughout, but not soaking wet.
Sow two to three seeds per pot, planting to depth twice that of the seeds circumference. Cover the seeds with vermiculite instead of the soil mix, as vermiculite is easy for the seedlings to push through.
Preparing Garden Soil
Remove any weeds, sod or other debris, such as rocks, from the proposed garden bed. Pull weeds by hand if there is only a few, otherwise rent a sod cutter from a home improvement store to remove heavy grass or weed coverage.
Till the soil to a 10-inch depth using a power tiller. Remove any rocks or large roots uncovered during tilling from the bed.
Lay a 4-inch layer of mature compost over the entire bed. Till it in using the power tilled or by hand.
Perform a soil test using a soil pH test kit purchased from a garden center or from your local extension office. Apply the fertilizer recommended for your soil type by the test to the garden bed. If a test isn't performed, apply a balanced fertilizer to the garden bed following label instructions.
Water the bed until it is evenly moist to a 6-inch depth. Test by sticking your finger into the soil to check the moisture.
Sow seeds in rows to a depth twice that their width. Plant two or three seeds per hole and space them as recommended on the seed envelope for the specific plant variety .