BACKYARD GARDENER • By MOIRA SHERIDAN • September 17, 2009
"The quality of your garden starts with the quality of your soil," says Mark Highland, founder and president of the Organic Mechanics Soil Co., in nearby West Chester, Pa.
Highland, who worked as a compost and soil specialist at Longwood Gardens before starting his company in 2006, says that fall is the ideal time to improve garden soil. Noting that most garden soil has an organic content of about 3 to 4 percent, Highland says the ideal should be between 5 and 8 percent, or even higher -- 10 percent in a vegetable garden.
A quick way to test the quality of your soil is to observe the color. "In the mid-Atlantic region, the darker the color, the higher the organic matter," he says. Another do-it-yourself test is to push a shovel or trowel into the soil using just your body weight. If it goes in easy and deep, the soil is most likely healthy; if not, there's probably some compaction.
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