Readers' Top 10 Gardening Mistakes
Mistake 3: Not Preparing the Soil
"We neglected to prepare our soil last year and, as a result, we ended up with a whole vegetable patch of plants that either
never gave fruit or died."
San Angelo, Texas
Since soil varies dramatically by region, Keys recommends testing your soil annually to find out what type of soil you have and what it needs based on what you want to grow. (You can pick up an inexpensive at-home soil testing kit at the hardware store; watch this video to see how it works.) Then amend the soil as suggested. No matter what, says Soler, it’s a good idea to mix your soil with an equal amount of organic compost. "It’s the best foundation for your garden—it gives your plants the nutrients they need without overloading them with chemical fertilizers which can deplete the microbial activity needed for healthy plant growth."