Getting Down & Dirty: Prepping Your Soil in 3 Easy Steps

Where do you even start with a garden? Why would you want to go through all of that work? You can find my “Why” here. First, I would like to say that the information I am about to divulge is based on tradition and experience.

I believe that gardening looks different to every person and sometimes, a little trial and error is the best teacher.

My garden prepping actually starts in the fall, after harvest is over. I go through and pull all leftover plants and weeds. Then, I till the ground a few times, a few different directions for good measure. Below, you will find steps to get started from scratch.

Getting Your Garden Plot Ready

If you have existing garden space your starting point will be a bit different. Let’s just say that you are planning to start from scratch.

Step 1: Location, Location, Location.

Say it with me. Location, location, location. Your first step is to pick where you want to put your garden.  A majority of the vegetables that the average home gardener will be planting require 6-8 hours of sunlight. It is extremely important for tomatoes, green beans and peppers to have adequate sunlight. Wherever you think you might want to put your garden plot, think about the position of the sun during the summer months.

Step 2: How much Space Do You Need

Next, think about how much space you will need. If you only plan to grow a few different things, you will not need a large area. If you plan to plant TONS of things, well, you’ve got your work cut out for you and you will need a large planting area. See “Rainy Day Ponderings: Designing Your Dream Garden” for tips and tricks on drawing up your planting plan.

Step 3: Work the Ground

Now, I don’t mean to go out and have a dance party. I guess some sort of inaugural garden dance could be fun. However, what I really mean is to get the ground tilled up. You can rent rear-tine tillers from your local hardware or equipment store. You can borrow one from a friendly neighbor or friend. Or, ultimately, you can purchase one. You will need to till up the planned garden space several times to get it truly ready for planting. I like to go over it at least twice, but more often I do it three or more times and in different directions.

There are a few types of tillers you will find:

  • Rear tine: If you have a large area with hard soil, this is the one you want. They are larger, but physically much easier to handle.
  • Front tine: The front-tine tillers are good for soft soil or small areas. They tend to bounce and jerk when they run into something tough. Plus, they are a lot harder to turn.
This is our rickety, front-tine rototiller. This baby has been quite the beast, lasting well over 20 years.

Your Soil is Prepped, Now What

You need to start planning your planting. It’s a good idea to leave a day or two between each till of the soil, if possible. During the waiting period, draw up a sketch of what plants you want to plant and where. See “Rainy Day Ponderings: Designing Your Dream Garden” for tips and tricks to get the most out of your garden space.

2 thoughts on “Getting Down & Dirty: Prepping Your Soil in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Choosing the right electric tiller for you is going to be based on several different factors: the volume of work you plan to do, how you use it, your physical strength and, of course, your budget. In order to help you make an informed choice, let’s break down what an electric tiller is, does and how to use it.

  2. Electric garden tillers are machines used to till a sizable land for cultivation. Primarily, they are used for reworking existing beds and edges. Electric cultivators are less noisy as compared to petrol driven models thus ideal for tilling plots where noise checks apply.

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