Importance of Soil
The most important thing in a vegetable garden is the soil.
Many vegetable plants are fast growing and therefore can be heavy feeders, so they will need a quality garden soil for best performance. Few gardeners have ideal soil for growing vegetables but, in most cases and with a little work, you can turn the average to poor soil you have into a good vegetable growing medium. If your soil is too sandy it might not hold enough water and nutrients, while clay soils are often too compacted and lack good drainage.
Soil pH, the measure of your soils acidity or alkalinity, is very important as well. Before fertilizing your vegetable garden, doing a soil test for pH and nutrients is recommended. Most vegetable plants grow well in a soil with neutral pH, around 7.0. Your Local Extension Service may provide soil test services. Results from a soil test can tell you what might be needed to adjust pH, and amounts to apply.
Good Drainage is a must for growing vegetables.
The key to good soil is organic matter. Between each season, broadcast a half-inch layer or so of organic matter over the garden. Mushroom Compost, composted manures, or your own home-made compost are good forms of organic matter. Till or turn to mix organic matter into the garden soil. When starting a new garden, mix in a 2 to 4 inch layer of organic matter/compost into the soil.
It is best to build up "raised rows/beds" within the garden to facilitate good drainage. These raised rows should be 5 to 10 inches in height. You can always supply extra water when needed, but you cant take it away.
What is a conventional garden?
A conventional garden is one in which a large area is planted in rows at the ground level. Though these gardens have been the norm in our region for years past, many home gardeners are switching to raised bed gardening which is much easier, less expensive, and less time consuming. Conventional gardening takes more time out of busy lives. Conventional gardening requires more fertilization, compost, weed and insect control, as well as back breaking tilling of soil and picking of vegetables. We won't spend much time here getting into the ins and outs of conventional gardens as there are so many benifits to gardening in raised beds.