ADD ORGANIC MATERIAL WHEN PREPARING SOIL
Once the best location has been selected, begin soil preparation. If you
have an established garden area, usually weeds and grass are not present.
If tenacious grass such as bermuda is present, it must be removed. Till
the area to a 1 inch depth and remove all soil and grass stubble. Do no
think that such grasses can be tilled into the soil and disposed of; they
will return more vigorous than before. If the grass is dormant, contact
herbicides such as glyphosate are not effective.
Till or spade soil when it is moist but not wet. Working soil when too wet
can cause large clods and a rough planting surface.
Adding liberal amounts of organic material to all types of garden soils
is a highly recommended practice. Hay, compost, rotted grass clippings or
leaves applied 2 to 3 inches deep to the garden surface and tilled or worked
into the soil greatly improves sands or clays.
Heavy clay soils, which are sticky when wet and hard as a brick when dry,
can be modified if large quantities of organic matter and a washed, coarse
sand are added. Use a washed sand to insure removal of calcium carbonate,
which makes alkaline soils even more alkaline. If only sand and clay soil
are mixed the result will be a hard adobe! Quantities of organic matter
and sand must be added together to compose a garden mix which is one-third
sand, one-third soil and one-third organic matter. For instance, add 3 inches
of sand and 3 inches of organic matter to the garden surface if the soil
is to be tilled to a 10-inch depth.
Gypsum (calcium sulfate) added to a "sticky" soil makes it more
friable. Gypsum is a neutral product which does not increase or decrease
the soil's alkalinity. Not only is it a good soil conditioner, but it also
furnishes certain amounts of calcium, which may prevent such minor element
disorders as blossom-end-rot of tomatoes. Never add lime or wood ashes to