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Quality soil is essential to an effective garden. Without proper soil condition, the roots of your plants won't get enough water, nutrients, and minerals they need to survive and thrive. You should monitor your soil throughout the growing season, but especially before you get started.

• Test your soil. You can get a soil test from your local cooperative extension agency. You want to find out the pH level of your soil. Your cooperative extension agency will give you the proper directions for conducting your soil test. For best results, you'll want a pH level of slightly acidic soil for your plants to grow. Depending on the test of your soil, you may have to add lime or sulfur to your lawn or garden over time in order to slowly change the pH level of your yard.
• Get rid of existing vegetation. When you're creating your garden, you need to get rid of all your existing plant life in order to clear the soil. Your soil will be ready for new vegetation only when the old is out. Otherwise, your plants may not grow as effectively as you hope. The best soil is clean, slightly moist soil.
• Till your soil. Your garden should consist of dirt that is broken and soft, not hard and in one piece. You want to provide the opportunity for your roots to get the needed levels of nutrients and water. The best way to do that is to have well-tilled soil.
• Fertilize. Your soil needs food to allow growth. Find out what the best type of fertilizer is for your soil and follow the directions closely. You want to allow your plants to have the optimum amounts of the needed minerals and nutrients.
• Water the soil. Your soil should remain moist but not flooded. Your best bet is to keep your ground slightly moist, then allow it to dry slightly in the sun. You may want to invest in a sprayer with a timer attached so your plants will get the correct amount of water.