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IDEA: Preparing the Soil

I bet if we surveyed Georgia gardeners, the top complaint would be the soil! I know, deer might be a close second, but we can often do something to improve the soil. In the case of this garden, I am going to invest in the soil because I know it will pay dividends in the health and growth of the plants. I first sampled the soil to get an idea of where I am starting and what I need to add. More about that when I receive the test results.


I collected a soil sample, and sent it to the UGA Soil, Plant, and Water Laboratory in Athens. This will tell me more about the soil, such as its pH and nutrient availability. I should get the results in two weeks or so.

Then, I added compost to the soil and worked it in. I know this will increase the soil’s ability to retain moisture, an important consideration in this exposed site surrounded by asphalt. Added compost (organic matter) can also boost populations of beneficial microorganisms that help convert nutrients into forms that plants can take up and use. The compost can also improve the soil texture, creating some macropores for oxygen and water to move in and out of the soil to the benefit of plant roots, earthworms, and other critters.


First pass with tiller fluffed up the soil and incorporated top layer of decomposed pine straw.


Compost is delivered!


Compost is spread and ready for second tilling.


After second tilling, soil was raked to the center, forming a gentle slope to the sides.

Now, how about some irrigation and mulch?!?

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About sdorn

Sheri is the State Coordinator for the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program and Extension Specialist for Consumer Ornamentals. When she is not traveling about the state of Georgia admiring the work of Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, she spends time in her own (real and virtual) gardens.