How to Grown Vegetables in Poor Soil
A difficult situation for any gardener is growing a decent crop of vegetables in poor soil. Often, the soil in a particular area may not be suitable for growing certain types of vegetables. It may contain too much sand, too much clay, or may be too rocky. To grow in poor soil, there are several alternatives that may be used.
One method is to plant in raised beds. By creating a raised bed, you have control as to what type of soil you are working with and it can be easily manipulated.
Another method it to change the existing soil. Depending on the soil type, certain things can be added to modify and improve the soil. You will have to determine which method is best in your circumstances.
One of the easiest methods is to find out what vegetables grow well in your existing soil and plant those specific plants. Every type of soil has many plants that thrive in the conditions it provides, you just need to find out what they are.
Step 1 - Create a Raised Bed
A raised bed is one that you made above your existing soil with healthier soil you've purchased, made, or obtained from another location. The first thing you need to do is find a suitable location. Use a material such as landscaping timbers, cement blocks, or railroad ties to build a border to your bed. Line the bottom of the bed with a layer of newspaper. Do not used any colored paper, just black and white. The newspaper will keep weeds at bay for your new garden, and will eventually decompose. Then add a layer of soil, followed by a layer of compost or organic mulch. Continue layering the soil and compost until you have a bed deep enough for planting. Make sure you have more soil and compost to add after the bed has had time to settle.
Step 2 - Modify Your Existing Soil
Before doing anything else, test your soil. You can buy a self testing kit, or you can send the soil to a state lab for professional testing. The self test will not give you the detailed information that a laboratory test will. For soil that has a high clay content, you can add compost and gypsum to aid in the soils ability to absorb and drain moisture. Both additives encourage worm activity, and worms are natures aerators and they always improve soil quality. If your soil is too rocky or too sandy, you can add compost and potting soil, or any imported quality soil, and mix it well with the existing soil. The soil test should tell you what your soil is poor in, so you know what nutrients and additives are necessary.
Step 3 - Find Plants Native to Your Soil
When you know what type of soil you have, it is easy to do some research to find out what vegetable will grow well when planted in it. You can usually call your areas extension office to get this type of information.