How to Create Healthy Soil for Planting

Learn how to create healthy garden soil using natural materials on a consistent basis.

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Healthy soil is the key ingredient for growing an awesome garden.

It doesn’t matter what you plan to grow, if the soil hasn’t been improved it will not produce to it’s full potential.

So, how is this done? That’s a great question because many gardeners have different techniques and it can be difficult to choose what’s best for your space.

My rule is to go back to basics using all natural material because it’s been proven to work for generations.  Almost any plant you decide to grow will do amazing in soil that’s been conditioned with natural ingredients.

How to Create Healthy Soil

There are several key things we’ll be covering  in this article.

One being you’ll need a comfortable strong shovel because you’ll be spending a lot of time together.

Visit a nursery or garden store to find a shovel that comfortible and fits your body type.  Now let’s take a look at how we’ll be using this shovel for good plannting.

Common Steps for Good Planting

  • For light planting in raised beds, loosen the soil at least 10 -12 inches deep.
  • You can also use a tiller to lighten the work load if you have an open ground garden.
  • For deep planting loosen the soil at least 3-4 feet deep, a tiller and shovel is recommended.
  • Depending on your soil type you’ll need to add additional ingredients to smooth things out.
  • Always add compost and sometimes sand if you experience thick levels of clay.
  • If heavy sand is present then seek clay to level the growing field.

The point of soil breakup allows the root system to expand in its new environment.  Most plants die not due to lack of water but lack of proper soil preparation.

Soil preparation is the key to your success and it’s ongoing.

If you’re finding that gardening is becoming more and more difficult to maintain then checkout my book, Startle Garden Now.

I focus on implementing proper soil preparation using smaller and taller raised beds, a garden system I designed and use here at Garden Up Green.

By simplifying using methods proven to work for generations I was able to establish a garden focused on creating healthy soil from square one.

The best part I didn’t have to scale back planting to decrease hours of maintenance.   Learn more here.

Let’s continue with creating healthy soil for planting using some of my favorite natural methods, you’re going to love these…

Direct Compost Method

Caring for your soil  never ends.

My favorite tip in conjunction with natural animal fertilizer and debris is the Direct Compost method.

I was introduced to this when I was a kid from my grandmother and continue to use this year-round instead of a compost bin.

You simply dig a hole in soil and fill it with food waste, then over it up and when the worms arrive they do the rest.

It takes about a week for the waste to be cultivated back inthe soil; this may vary depending on the time of year.

Direct compost egg shells, coffee or tea grounds, fruit peels and cores, and vegetable peelings. I even compost chicken bones because they add calcium to the soil.  Make sure to dig them deep because they take longer to decompose.


Additional amending treatments include natural material like leaves, grass clippings, animal manure and debris.

I go into great detail about natural material in my book and show you how to use it while establishing a new garden space.

Planting Correctly

After the soil is prepped and cared for correctly there are a few necessary steps when establishing larger plants in open or small planting spaces.
  • Always dig a larger hole than the existing plant you’re placing in ground.
  • Form a firm mound at the bottom of the hole.
  • Before adding plants, loosen the root system and spread over the mound.
  • Fill the hole in the removed soil and water the plant.
  • Add a mulch layer after the water has settled.

When you establish healthy soil and plant correctly almost everything comes up a wonderful shade of green. This grass is a living testament to what healthy soil can produce.

Why is it so lush and green?  Because our llama would use this area for waste.

Animal fertilizer offers amazing results tfor growing and you can learn more about llama fertilizer here.

Finally we want to remember what Mulch and water can do for our gardens.

This can be sometimes overlooked or over done because we confuse weather patterns with the needs of the plants.


Why Mulch

Mulch keeps the root system moist and makes the soil loose and absorbent.  Remember to add mulch in the form of a circle spread until the surface is covered.

Mulch is necessary year-round, especially during the winter and summer months.  I’m known for making my own or sometimes gathering leaves because they also work great.

You may enjoy reading making garden mulch here and how to gather mulch here.

When to Water

With new plants water is needed until plants are established, even most drought tolerant plants need water in those early stages.It can sometimes take 2 or 3 seasons before a new perennial plant is established in their space.

Once settled they can get by with little or no water in addition to rainfall.

Setting up a water schedule based on plant research can be helpful and easy to implement until a routine is established.  I have a free seasonal garden planner to help with that available below.

The main thing to remember is everything begins with your soil.

When you create healthy soil a strong foundation follows.

Learn to keep this foundation healthy by  continuing to nurture year after year and you’ll find that growing becomes less difficult and more enjoyable.


Smiles and Sunshine, Carole West


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