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  1. The first thing you should do is to buy a soil test kit (available online, at K-Mart's garden department or any other garden center or nursery) and do a soil test so you know not only what nutrients your soil needs, but also the pH of your soil. The next step is to size up your space as to the soil conditions (is your soil poor, soggy, sandy, clay?), amount of sun, amount of space, etc. One soil amendment/fertilizer I always use in my vegetable beds is compost or aged manure. Both are not only great sources for the three important nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), but also add essential trace minerals. Accessing your soil is the foundation to growing healthy plants.

    Once you know what you're working with, then you can take the necessary steps to improve and amend your soil as needed. But no matter what conditions you start with, I always recommend tilling or digging in a thick layer of organic matter such as compost, dry grass clippings, or aged manure to improve the tilth and fertility of your soil. After that it’s a matter of deciding what you want to grow and then laying the groundwork by designing or planning your beds and/or borders. Remember to start small and group plants according their growing needs for light, soil and moisture. Here’s a link to one of my articles that may be of help: http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2011/07/cover_package_sustainable_boun.html

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