The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Brandee Gillham
The Cowboys Wife 

Spring Has Sprung: Vegetable Gardening 102


After you have determined the placement and layout of your garden spot, the next thing to get ready is your soil.

This is my favorite part of the whole season. There is something about digging in the dirt that is soothing for the soul.

There are some amazingly cool resources to help determine if your soil is too acidic or too basic, but I keep my life much more simple than that… I add the same amendment every year and it has never sent me astray. Never!

My beds remain uncovered in the off season. The first thing I do is add Humalfa Nature’s Prescription to every bed. I add one 40# bag to my 3’ x 16’ beds, 2 - 40# bags to my larger southern beds that measure 6’ x 16’.

This may sound like a shameless plug for a local company out of Iliff, but I actually found this product first when I was living in northern Wyoming. I didn’t pay attention to where it was manufactured and simply looked for it again when we moved home to the family ranch. Hands down this is the best soil amendment you can add to your garden! Who doesn’t love to support local companies? You can find bagged Nature’s Prescription at at local hardware stores, or you can contact Humalfa directly to purchase in bulk. The next step is to turn the soil using a flat-point shovel. I love jumping on a shovel and turning dirt! I consider it my daily work out and boy do I feel it the next day.

This really helps to pull the soil away from the side of the beds. Once I get the outer soil turned. I use my mini-rototiller to mix the “old” soil with the new amendments. Let’s be honest though, the better option is to get my cowboy to take his shirt off (to work on getting rid of his terrible cowboy tan lines) and have him till the soil.

Using a rototiller can be fast and efficient, but it can also create some issues. Worms are excellent natural aerators, so you don’t want to chop them to smithereens by over tilling. Also a rototiller can create what is called “tiller pan” and can create a compact, harder surface underneath your nice soft soil. The take home point is don’t over-till your garden. Less is more.

Once the existing soil and amendments are mixed well I use the back side of a hard rake to even out the surface of the bed. I have an old broom that I use to sweep the edge of my beds. I don’t like kneeling down and getting rocks in my knees, and I enjoy the garden looking clean and well-kept.


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