Seedbed preparation is essential for creating a healthy bond between the new seed and the soil in which it will germinate and grow. There are several steps to successful seedbed preparation:
- Removal of any debris in the soil, including large stones, undesirable plant debris and unwanted insects.
- Leveling. Beds can be raised or level with the surrounding earth, but in either case, they need to be level to prevent water run-off and to make it easy for plants to grow straight.
- Breaking up the soil and adding natural soil enhancements.
A key concept in a healthy bond between seed and soil is seed-to-soil contact. Contact is improved by breaking up soil. The more finely pulverized the soil, the greater the soil surface area available to the seed and the better the oxygen distribution. The seed depends on the soil initially for moisture to stimulate germination and later for nutrients to enable growth. Increasing surface area is done mechanically by tilling the soil.
Depending on the size of the area involved, tilling can be done with a garden tiller or with an appropriate larger farm implement for bigger areas. Tilling the soil breaks up clods which are compacted and resistant to penetration by new sprouts. Clods can also have air pockets around themselves that can dry out and kill newly sprouting plants. Soil should be tilled to a depth of about five inches. It can be more finely pulverized with raking afterwards. You can begin seedbed preparation in the fall by tilling the beds then. This also plows in weeds which die and fertilize the soil.
Many gardeners do a second round of tilling in the spring (or first, if they skipped it in the fall). A new growing area will take extra time and effort to till.
A seedbed should be firm and moist, but not too compacted or crusted over. The soil should be firm enough to prevent too much air from killing the first sprout to rise out of the earth. It should be soft enough to allow the sprout to push through easily. If the sprout has to struggle, it can weaken and bend in the process, reducing plant vitality. Proper soil firmness is also essential to the generation of a good root system. The first little root is called the radical. The radical needs a welcoming environment to sink down into the soil and spread itself.
Seedbeds can crust over. This happens frequently if the soil is clayish. Clayish soil in conjunction with rainwater can produce a difficult-to-penetrate crust. Just think of ceramic pots. A crust can block the new sprouts from breaking free to the surface. Spraying Microp is a good solution to this problem. Microp enhances soil aggregates, which retains fluffiness and moisture. This easily helps prevent seedbed crusting. For this use, Microp should be applied just after planting.
Soil improvement is also usually part of seedbed preparation. Soil can be improved in a variety of ways. You can add compost, worm castings or a variety of other soil enhancement products. In addition to Microp, American Natural Products carries two all-natural soil enhancement products that can greatly enhance growing.
The first is Seaweed Extract, a natural and powerful biostimulant formula that growers swear by. It enhances plant strength, size, color and vitality. Applied to a freshly planted seedbed, it allows plants to not just bloom, but to boom.
Another important product for seedbeds is Plant Success. Plant Success is a soil enhancer and root extender made of: mycorrhizal fungi, which colonize roots, extend root systems, and aid nutrient uptake; eleven different bacterial species; two Trichoderma species; and a biostimulant. It comes in liquid, granular and tablet forms and can be sprayed or scattered.
When you are getting ready to plant seeds in your seedbed, never be afraid to add some of our all-natural soil enhancements. Organic gardening needs all the help it can get. Giving your seeds nutrient-rich, well-tilled, level soil significantly increases the chances of reaping beautiful decorative plants and a bountiful harvest.