Start by clearing away any dead plant debris, if it wasn’t done in the fall. Haul it off or burn it- don’t till it in, because there are insects in there that won’t be killed by tilling. They love being tilled in. Spade or till the ground once over to a depth of 8 to 10 inches, loosening and aerating the soil. Then spread a good layer of compost, such as Nutri-Mulch, or other organic material such as old grass clippings, dead leaves, or even old hay, over the garden spot and till it again. If you use manure, be sure it’s not fresh, because it can burn your seeds and new plants. Manure should be well dried and a year old. Apply this organic material and till it in several times, especially if your soil has a way of getting hard and shedding water, or if it dries out very quickly. You can’t overdo organic material. Along with the compost, till in a balanced fertilizer as well. 16-16-16 is a perfect fertilizer for gardens. Along with your fertilizer, till in HuMate Granules (this used to be called Soil Activator). HuMate Granules build beneficial microbes in the soil, helping your garden make better use of fertilizer and water than ever before. Since our area has mostly alkaline soil, it is an excellent idea to also till in Hi-Yield Iron Plus Soil Acidifier to lower the pH. A lower soil PH can help protect against plant diseases like Fusarium Wilt in tomatoes. Remember to rotate the crops in your garden. Don’t plant potatoes, eggplant, peppers, or tomatoes in the same place two years in a row, or where any of the others were. Peas and beans, on the other hand, actually improve the soil. Corn or squash will do especially well if planted where the peas or beans were last year. Put tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, and leafy vegetables where root crops, like carrots, radishes, turnips or parsnips, grew the year before. Once your garden is up and growing, a good layer of mulch, such as straw, will keep the moisture in and cut down on watering and weeding. Using a pre-emergent, which is a spray-on or granulated weed preventer, will give you season long control of weeds and make gardening simple.
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