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Preparing Ground for Growing Crops

Information about where to site your plot and how to prepare the ground for sowing or planting


Preparing Ground for Growing Crops

If you are starting to grow your own produce from scratch, especially in a garden, then where you site your beds should  be a consideration. This article will explain the best place to grow fruit and vegetables and how to prepare the ground for sowing seed or planting

Location: Where to put your crop beds

If possible, locate your vegetable garden or pots/containers in full sun.   Avoid placing beds under or close to trees whose roots will compete for nutrients and which may cast deep shadows over the plot for part of the day.

If space allows, consider having three separate beds so you can practise crop rotation . In any event, make sure your beds have enough working space around them to avoid having to walk on the earth. To this end, placing them next to existing paths would be ideal. Visit our Available Space and  How to plan Beds and Plots page for more details.

How to prepare your vegetable plot or bed

In the autumn or early spring before planting/sowing, dig in plenty of compost or manure, which not only helps feed the growing plants through the season, but also improves the soil structure and drainage.  If the ground is very heavy, using a garden fork rather than a spade will probably make this job easier.

If you have a very large plot which hasn't been worked for a while, then you should consider hiring or borrowing a mechanical rotovator or cultivator. However, even if  you are using hand tools, it's best to work in a methodical way, perhaps just digging a 30cm/1ft strip at a time. Work your way backwards (ensuring your way is clear before you start) so you don't tread on the part you've just dug up.

Double digging is an age old practice of digging a trench as above, and then forking over the bottom of the trench before re-filling with soil. Good for areas which have become very compacted.

Gradually break down large clods of earth then rake to a medium/fine tilth. This is most easily done with a garden rake. Once you've prepared the soil, avoid walking on it.   If much time is to elapse before planting/sowing, cover the prepared plot with a layer of perforated black-plastic sheeting which will not only heat the soil but also prevent weeds from growing.  



Raised beds have become popular in recent times. This is where individual beds are made (about 90cm/3ft wide by however long) and traditionally edged with planks of wood or railway sleepers then topped up with extra soil thus raising the level of the soil in the beds by a minimum of 15cm/6 inches.  Today there are many raised bed kits on the market.

Go to:- List of Tools & Equipment  |   Getting Started  |  Available Space  |  Which Crops to Grow  |  Planning Beds 

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