Preparing the ground for planting spring and summer vegetables must be done now at the latest.
Please remember that soil is much more than just a support for the plants. It is the source of the plant's food and water so it's necessary to break it up to allow for good drainage, root penetration and aeration.
The amount of digging required depends to a certain extent on both the type of soil and the plants to be grown in it.
Sandy soils do not require very deep digging unless you are adding compost to the lower levels.
Heavy soils that have a hard subsoil should be dug over as deep as possible but do not bring the infertile subsoil to the top of the ground.
There are three styles of digging the vegetable garden.
The first is plain digging when the soil is turned upside down only to the depth of the spade and is used for very sandy, well-drained soils or in ground that has been dug much deeper in the past two to three years.
The second style of digging is known as double digging because the bed is dug to twice the depth of the spade and is used for adding fertiliser or compost after they have been spread over the surface.
The first spade depth of soil is removed and placed to one side.
The second spade depth is then dug over as in the plain digging style incorporating compost or another type of organic material such as animal manure.
This style is completed by placing the first layer in an inverted position.
The third style of digging is called trenching.
This method is much like the double digging style but the first layer of soil is placed into a wheelbarrow to be used later. In its place put a layer of organic material.
The next section of soil is dug out and placed on top of the organic matter.
This is continued until the end of the trench is reached and the soil from the first trench, the soil saved in the wheelbarrow, is then used to cover the last layer of organic material.
This style is best used in early autumn ready to plant winter crops into.
The decomposing of the organic material will not only feed the crop but the heat generated will form a type of bottom heat to keep the soil in the crop's root zone a little warmer throughout winter and will encourage steady growth.
We can use two main sources of plant food, artificial fertilisers and organic materials, both of which perform best when used in conjunction with each other.
Artificial fertilisers are valuable sources of the major elements of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Ready-mixed artificial fertiliser blends are available for the plant groups we grow in our gardens.
Organic manures supply plant food, usually in an unbalanced manner, but are excellent sources of readily-available nitrogen.
The major benefit of using animal manures is to add organic matter to the soil.
August 15: Launceston Orchid Society, Newnham Uniting Church Hall, 7pm.
August 20: Australian Native Plant Society, Max Fry Hall, Gorge Road,Trevallyn, 7.30pm. Dr Miguel de Salas from the Tasmanian Herbarium to speak on highlights from his many years of plant hunting and collecting in Tasmania. Visitors welcome.
August 21: Launceston Horticultural Society, Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston, 8pm. Bob Reid, world renowned plant collector and breeder is guest speaker.
August 28: LHS Cacti & Succulent Group, Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston, (meeting room underneath), 7.30pm. Contact Pam 0427 637 208.
Daily: Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden, Burnie. Open 9am to 5pm. Tea room 10am to 4pm.