You are here

Soil Preparation

Soil preparation is the most crucial step in success with annuals. Roots of annuals have to penetrate soils quickly, anchor plants, and absorb water and nutrients in one season, often under adverse conditions. Most Mississippi soils can be improved with cultivation and the addition of other ingredients.

Cultivating wet soils may cause lumping and shallow "pans," which resist air, water, and root penetration. Soil that is ready for cultivation holds its shape when squeezed, but crumbles easily. Power tillers are useful for preparing large areas, but may create a compacted zone in the soil directly under the tilled area. Use a digging fork to help avoid soil compaction.

The first step in preparing a bed for annual plants is to remove any unwanted plants with a hoe and rake or with a nonselective contact herbicide. After weeds have been removed or killed, dig the soil a shovel's depth; deeper soil preparation is normally not necessary. To prevent resprouting, remove grass and weed roots while turning the soil. Break clods and lumps into smaller pieces.

Add 3 to 4 inches of organic material, such as composted leaf and yard litter, pine bark, peat moss, or composted manure. Then add an inch or two of sharp sand if the soil is heavy. Also, if the soil test indicates a need for lime or fertilizer supplements, spread them at the recommended rate over the top at this time. Mix amendments together, blending the organic matter, sand, and fertilizers. Rake the prepared bed smooth when finished.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Publications

Publication Number: P2472
Publication Number: P3589
Publication Number: P3506

News

A basket holds an assortment of red, yellow and green peppers.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens May 3, 2021

The month of May signals that it’s time for me to start planting culinary peppers in my home garden.

Freshly mowed lawn.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Plant Diseases, Trees, Vegetable Gardens April 29, 2021

As warmer weather creeps in, many people find themselves spending more time outdoors and working in their yards. If you’re like me, you’ve probably made a trip or two to your local garden center looking for plants and other garden necessities. After reading over May’s garden checklist, it looks like you may need to make a few more trips. Here are some tasks to check off this month. 

Plants grow from wooden boxes that have an overhead, curved pipe system.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens April 28, 2021

Mississippi’s long growing season means potential gardeners have until at least July to start growing vegetables, but the state’s ideal gardening climate also means weeds and pests are constant threats. Gardeners often grow flowers in containers to add pops of color and spots of greenery in otherwise unworkable areas, and they can be equally successful using containers to grow vegetables.

A low-growing plant with tiny leaves grows in a large pot.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens April 26, 2021

When looking at all the plants growing in landscapes, I’m reminded that each plant has a role in the story of that garden. And most garden stories have plants with sidekicks that you always find side by side.

A garden story that I recently enjoyed was the British TV show, “Rosemary & Thyme.” Rosemary Boxer (a university lecturer) and Laura Thyme (a former police officer) were a dynamic duo in the garden. They solved mysteries -- mostly murders -- while working as gardeners in beautiful landscapes all across Europe.

Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture April 22, 2021

It’s that time of the year when people are on the hunt for the perfect container plant combos. It’s tempting to head to the local garden center, pick out the best-looking flowers, and plant them with wild abandon. However, planning is an important part of the gardening process. Before you go to the garden center, decide where you want to put your container. This will help you purchase the right flowers for the space.

Watch

Woodleigh in Brookhaven
Southern Gardening

Woodleigh in Brookhaven

Sunday, May 2, 2021 - 5:00am
Sun and Shade Begonias
Southern Gardening

Sun and Shade Begonias

Sunday, April 25, 2021 - 5:00am
Shady Shrubs
Southern Gardening

Shady Shrubs

Sunday, April 18, 2021 - 5:00am
Tomato Transplants
Southern Gardening

Tomato Transplants

Sunday, April 11, 2021 - 5:00am
Container Gardening
Southern Gardening

Container Gardening

Sunday, April 4, 2021 - 5:00am

Listen

Friday, July 3, 2020 - 6:00am
Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 6:00am
Wednesday, July 1, 2020 - 6:00am
Monday, June 29, 2020 - 6:00am
Friday, June 26, 2020 - 6:00am

Contact Your County Office

Your Extension Experts

Portrait of Dr. Gary R. Bachman
Extension/Research Professor
Ornamental Horticulture Host of Southern Gardening