Bay Area Gardening 101: Prepping the soil for the spring vegetable garden – The Mercury News

Gardening Mag

Bay Area Gardening 101: Prepping the soil for the spring vegetable garden – The Mercury News

Now that winter is fading, it’s time to turn our thoughts to spring and vegetable gardens.

There’s planning and plotting to do about what you’re going to grow and where and when you’ll plant it. Preparation of in-ground beds, raised beds and containers is on the list, too. And it’s time to start some seed indoors, sow others in the still-chilly ground and scope out local nurseries and online companies for seedlings we can plant when the weather warms up. (And here you thought February was a slow month!)

In last month’s Gardening 101 webinar, Contra Costa Master Gardener Janet Miller and I scratched the gardening surface, but there’s so much more to tell. So let’s start with the lowdown on how to prepare your soil for planting. (You’ll find links to other gardening topics and to the recorded webinar at the end of this story.)

Location, location, location

Thinking of planting a vegetable garden this year? For spring and summer vegetable gardens, Miller says you’ll need to choose the sunniest spot in your yard. Popular veggies, including tomatoes and peppers, need eight hours of sun a day.

That said, there is such a thing as too much sunshine. If you have a very hot and sunny yard, you may need to protect plants by using shade cloth, a special material that allows a certain percentage of sunlight through to the plants. Don’t use shade cloth that is stronger than 50 percent, Miller says — anything more opaque than that can rob
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