The key to healthy plants is healthy soil. Late winter is the time to prepare the soil in your vegetable and flower gardens for the upcoming season. Nothing will make more of a difference in how well your plants perform than the correct soil mixture. Most plants will do best in soil that is well-drained with abundant organic matter. Does your dirt crust over when dry? When wet, does it form a hard ball when squeezed in your hand? These are all indications that the soil is deficient. This plan is intended for the majority of the common vegetable and flower plants where soil pH needs to be slightly acidic. Step 1 - Understand your starting point Measure your garden to find the square footage: multiply the length by width. We will use this number decides how much of each additive to use. It is also helpful to know the pH of the soil you are working with. Most plants do best in slightly acidic soil. If you have a pH meter, place the probe in the soil and let it sit for a few minutes, and record the reading. Soils that are too alkaline (above a 7 reading) or too acidic (below a 7 reading) will keep plants from using some nutrients efficiently. Remove grass and weeds from the area. Most non-selective herbicides such as Roundup, and Kill-Zall, have no soil activity and are safe in the garden. It is important to get all this stuff out now because the tilling process will spread many weeds if you try to bury them. Step 2 - Select your materials Blood Meal A good organic source of readily available nitrogen and minor micro-nutrients. Apply at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet. Cotton Seed Meal - A source of slowly available nitrogen and a natural acidifier. Apply at the rate of 4 pounds per 100 square feet. Bone Meal - Provides Phosphorus for blooming and fruit development. Also, it supplies Calcium, which is an important micro-nutrient. This is especially useful for tomato growers who battle blossom end rot (the soft, gray, rotten, spots on the bottom of tomatoes). Apply at the rate of 5 pounds per 100 square feet. Southwest Premium Compost - One of the best compost products in the world. 100% manure content that has been completely composted and will not smell or burn. Great source of humus for the soil microbes. Apply at the rate of 40 pounds per 100 square feet. Leaf Mold Compost- Another beneficial compost that could be used in place of a manure-based compost. Powdered Gypsum - This will help break up heavy clay soils and improve drainage. Apply 40 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Turface - Soil conditioner that looks like cat litter. This product is a porous granule that will hold over 70% of its weight in water. When added to your garden, it will stop the soil from compacting and release moisture as the soil around it dries. Apply at the rate of 10 pounds per 100 square feet. Step 3 - Work the products into the soil Spread each product at the recommended rate on top of the soil. Using a spading fork or tiller, blend them into the bed as deeply and thoroughly as you are able. As you are doing this, break up any clods that you see and pull any roots that may produce weeds. Step 4 - Light the fuse! After getting all of these goodies in the dirt, kick start the blending/composting of the ingredients by watering them in with soil microbe solution like Medina's Beneficial Microbes. These will make the soil 'mellow' and the nutrients you have added available to the plants. Cover with a layer of mulch to keep in moisture.