Proper early soil preparation provides the basis for good seed germination, plant growth, and a happy, successful gardener.
Soil pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Most plants require a soil pH between 5.5 to 7.0. If soil pH is abnormal, the health of the plant is affected. A normal pH ensures the availability of essentials nutrients to plants. Soil fertility and pH should be analyzed at least every three years. Contact your Texas AgriLife Extension Service county office for information on soil testing.
Gardeners often ask if it is best to prepare soil in fall or spring. Either is satisfactory. There are a few advantages to fall soil preparation; the organic matter has time to mature and aerate which can ensure earlier successful spring plantings. Spring tilling is best for sandy soils because of more rapid drainage of water and nutrients. The ideal goal is to create an aerated soil rich in available oxygen and plant nutrients.
Remember that soil is alive; it contains numerous microorganisms, fungi, and one of soil’s best friend, earthworms. Don’t destroy this delicate synergism created by nature by indiscriminately applying herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.
Healthy soil helps to ensure healthy plants.
Linda Whetsell, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service