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How to Prepare Garden Soil For Planting

Updated: May 4, 2022

Good garden soil is truly the foundation for a successful vegetable garden. Whether you are growing in pots or containers, in a raised bed, or in an in-ground garden, healthy soil is a must for growing healthy vegetable plants. What makes soil healthy? Generally vegetables need well drained soil with a good balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash along with other micronutrients and minerals. Let's take a look at a few ways we can prepare our soil for planting vegetables.

How to prepare soil for planting by adding compost, worm castings, peat moss and sand to your soil.  A girl holding garden soil in her hands out in her Calgary vegetable garden in zone 3.

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Cold hardy vegetables can be planted as soon as your garden soil is workable. For me in zone 3, just south of Calgary, Alberta, soil tends to be workable sometime in April. Prepare your garden soil for planting once it is no longer frozen and is dry enough to have a crumbly texture.

Ready to prepare raised bed vegetable garden soil for planting seeds.

Recipe for Garden Soil

If you are building a brand new garden, use 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 compost and 1/3 peat moss to create a loose, well drained, healthy soil base for your backyard vegetable garden. If you are growing in pots/containers, use 2/3 high quality soil mix (I like to stick with ProMix or Sunshine Mix - also labelled Sungro. I also use this mix to start my indoor plants.) and 1/3 compost. This soil mix already contains peat moss so there is no need to add that.

This is the potting soil I have been using the last few years.

Test Your Soil