soil thoughts – a couple that are dirt cheap….
The basic approach in preparing a new garden is to remove all grass and debris. What to do after that is subject to different opinions and conditions. If the area to be prepared is on level ground it can be turned over at least the depth of your shovel and tilled. Amendments like compost, peat moss, pine fines, leaf grow, green sand, and appropriate fertilizer should be added and tilled in. The height of the ground should have raised considerably. Be aware, however, that it will settle naturally with gravity and the decomposition of organic material.
Planting in this prepared soil is easy (since you’ve already done plenty of work), but watch for settling and “spoiling” the plant. If you lightly pack the soil before planting, the settling issue will be alleviated.
Another approach is to just amend the direct areas where you’re going to plant; keep the bottom of the hole firm and simply poke some holes in the bottom and around the perimeter. “Make a $10 hole for a $5 plant”, but leave other areas in the garden only marginally disturbed. This will retain the height and slope of the garden. This approach is particularly important when planting on slopes. You don’t want the garden to wash away.
Depending on the plant and/or conditions plant a plant in good hole (slightly raised) and encourage it to adapt to its ultimate soil source. Hmmm, encourage to adapt – that’s a pretty good idea for us all, wouldn’t you say?