It All Starts With Some Soil

— Written By and last updated by Kerry Jones
en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲
Starting a Vegetable Garden

Vegetable gardens have long been a staple in American life. It’s only since the end of WWII that people began to rely more on imported food to grocery stores than on their own supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. This trend has lead us to a point where we are vulnerable to any disruption of this supply (as we have seen play out since the pandemic came on the scene). It is truly refreshing to see the resurgence of those wanting to start their own small backyard vegetable garden. A small garden can produce more food than one might think and it is worth the time and effort to establish and maintain.

The key to growing quality produce is good soil. Now, I know virtually none of us start with excellent soil, but that is something that we can amend. Soils come in several forms from sand to loam to clay. Clay can be hard to work with, and it should absolutely not be worked when it is wet, but it holds a vast amount of nutrients ready for exploitation by our crop’s roots. Sand, on the other hand, will need constant additions of nutrients as it has little holding power.

The trick to getting any soil to give up its nutrients is to adjust its Ph level. Ph is the measure of the acidity that is in the soil. In North Carolina, the majority of our soils are inherently acid. That means that on a Ph scale of 1-14 where 1 is extremely acid and 14 is extremely alkaline, we are in the 4-5 range. In general, garden plants grow best when the Ph range is between 5.5 and 7. When the Ph is in the proper range, the plants in our garden can gain maximum use of the soil’s available nutrients.

When planning a garden (assuming you have decent drainage), obtaining the proper Ph is one of the most important steps to take in order to be successful. You can get to that “magic” Ph range first by conducting a soil test offered through your local Cooperative Extension Office. Once you’ve mailed your sample and received your results by email, you have a blueprint for exactly what you need to do to get your soil to work best for you and your garden.

If you have ever considered starting a backyard garden, there is no better time than now. With external factors making our continued food supply uncertain, it’s time to assess your ability to sustain your own reserves. As I’ve stated before, begin with the soil and work your way up. By preparing your soil in the proper way, you can prevent 80% of your future problems. Do something great for yourself, your family and your community. Grow a vegetable garden!