The first step in creating an edible landscape is good soil preparation.

Soil is composed of sand, silt and clay mineral particles in varying proportions. It’s a soil’s tilth — its texture — that determines how well plants grow and the ease with which plants are able to take up water and nutrients.

There are 12 basic soil types and most common soil types are loamy sand, loam, clay loam, and clay.

You can determine soil texture by using the feel method. Take a handful of moist soil from the area that you will be planting. Squeeze it so that it forms a clump or ribbon. No ribbon can be formed with loamy sand without breaking. With loam, a short ribbon can be formed; it will split easily and break away when about half an inch long and can be easily handled. Clay loam will form a strong ribbon when moist, will break when it’s about ¾-inch long and can bear moderate handling. Clay forms a strong ribbon, will often break only after more than 1 inch and can bear considerable handling.

Once one determines a soil’s tilth, one can amend the soil for optimum planting results.

For instance, in case of the compacted clay you should concentrate on adding organic matter. After tilling the area, 10 cubic yards of compost may be added.
Once the compost is worked into the soil you must plant cover crops. You could start with hairy vetch in fall, which was allowed to over-winter.

Field peas were could be in spring, then tilled into the soil during the summer. Cowpeas may be sown in the summer and tilled into the soil in the fall. In this way, you can easily add natural nitrogen and organic matter into the clay soil, increasing its tilth.

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