South Florida Gardening

Preparing the Soil – Update

by , on
Feb 19, 2019

Last season I wrote a post explaining how we go about preparing the soil for planting which you can find here. Well…. this is a new season, with “more water under the bridge” – and new knowledge gained through experience, the advice of experts and our own research and reflections. Therefore I want to update last year’s post with what new ways we are preparing “soil” – or better said “growing media” – to start and grow our veggies. Don’t get me wrong – most of what I said last year still stands. Where we’ve significantly changed a practice that I touted back then, I will indicate it here and in that post as well. continue reading »

How Do We Prepare the Soil for Planting?

by , on
Oct 29, 2017
soil in bed

Not exactly an exciting or pretty picture right? But it’s just perfect, because this is how much of our garden looks as we prepare the soil for the coming season. It is a serious endeavor, as we have learned from experience that a successful garden is more dependent than anything upon having really good soil. Not only does it support the growth of our plants, but determines their nutritional value as well. And, good soil is a pest deterrent, because poor soil produces weak plants that are more vulnerable to pests and actually attract them. Also, the beneficial microbes in good soil help to prevent plant disease.

Fall is our “spring” when it comes to planting here in South Florida. Our growing season starts in the fall and runs through the spring, which is the opposite of most regions in the U.S. For the first few years that we had this garden, we had wonderfully rich organic soil that we were able to obtain at a steep discount. To “prepare the soil” meant opening the bags and dumping them in the beds, and voila! – our plants would thrive! But when we lost our source, we had to learn how to create the best soil environment for our plantings on our own. It has been a process – one that we improve upon each year, and continue to learn from.

There are many steps we take to prepare the soil for planting our new crops each year.

I. Before the fall season:

  • A truckload of finely ground tree mulch is ordered at least six months in advance so that it can break down into composted soil in time for fall planting.
  • Seeds are planted for our cover crops in many of the beds (see post: Summer Cover Crops) in late spring/early summer, after completing our harvest. As the plants mature (in a few months), we cut them down and turn them into the soil for decomposition.
  • We get as much of our own homemade kitchen-scrap compost going as possible, in bins at our community garden and at home (see post: Compost It!).
  • continue reading »

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