Getting your soil ready for planting isn’t overly complicated. From small gardens to hobby farms, the preparations are pretty much the same. By following these steps, you’ll have the best chance to maximize your success throughout the growing season.
Get a Soil Test
Understanding the composition of your soil plays a big role in what you can grow and how you should amend it. If you’ve never grown anything on your land, this is a critical first step. In fact, it’s recommended even experienced growers conduct a soil test every three years. This test will provide valuable insights about details such as the soil’s pH level, as well as the amount of nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Soil testing kits can be purchased at your local home and garden store, or can be conducted by a professional.
Clear Cover Crops
Whether you planted cover crops intentionally or your beds have become covered in weeds and grass, it all needs to go. Trying to pull everything up by hand can be incredibly labor intensive, so this is a case where a compact tractor can help you handle the hard work. Vegetation management attachments like a rotary cutter will clear overgrowth in a fraction of the time it would take otherwise. Fortunately, you don’t need to clean up the cuttings as they can be worked into the soil to provide extra nutrients.
Till the Soil
After you’ve cleared your cover crops, let the plant matter settle for a few days before you start tilling. This essential step loosens the soil, breaks up below-ground root structures, and provides more room for plants to grow. Ideally, you want to till to a depth of eight to ten inches so the roots have the ability to reach deeper with ease. Tilling is best done when the soil is dry, as wet soil can become compacted and clog your tractor attachments.
There are different approaches to adding enhancements like compost and fertilizer to the soil. Some prefer to do it before tilling to more thoroughly incorporate the amendments. Others like to enrich the soil afterwards since tilling can push nutrients too deep for roots to reach. Whatever approach you choose, these enhancements add vital nutrients that will enhance your overall yield.
Level Your Beds
Turning over the soil by tilling can leave it uneven and bumpy. Being careful not to compact the soil, take a little extra time to even things out. Shaping your beds will provide more even distribution of plants, and also allow for more consistent watering and easier maintenance throughout the growing season.
Make a Map
While it’s tempting to get your seeds or starters into the ground as soon as possible, creating a map to follow will help you maximize your space. Taking into account things like the footprint different crops take up and the placement of your irrigation system makes for neat, organized beds that will save you extra work in the long run.
If you need any further help or have any questions about service, tractors, implements, or anything else equipment-related, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944. Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.
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