The quality of the soil

 Inorganic market gardening, the yield of a crop depends to a large extent on the quality of the soil. which nourishes cultures. The ideal land is loose, well-drained, and contains essential elements to the growth of vegetables. Although almost any soil can become fertile with good plan fertilization and the addition of amendment (see chapter 6), its initial quality determines the time and efforts required to achieve this. For this reason, it is important to characterize the nature of the soil that you will be dealing with. This turns out all the more important if you are looking to start a garden market gardening knowing in advance that you will be moving downstairs in a few seasons and that to invest in the long term to improve its structure interests you less.

The quality of the soil depends mainly on its nature (clay, sand, silt) and its percentage n organic matter. We can improve the latter and encourage their multiplication, but the nature of the soil will greatly influence the practices cultures and set the constraints. There are different techniques for determining the nature of soil yourself (see below) without having to resort to a laboratory test. But to when choosing a site (or deciding between several), I recommend that you contact your local agricultural advisor to carry out a proper sampling and soil analysis form. The results will provide you with data added on the type of soil, but also the organic matter, it contains, its pH, and its chemical equilibrium. This information should be anyway be obtained at one point or another.

Before settling on the current site of our gardens, I had the opportunity to garden in the sand rather poor and, later, in heavy earth and clayey. These experiences allowed me to appreciate the many advantages of loam rich in material organic like the one we have in Les Jardins de la Grelinette. Starting with the best possible soil is a smart choice.


Contrary to what one might imagine, a plot suitable for market gardening does not have to be flat. As the relief of the site influences the drainage, heating, and ventilation of a garden, on the contrary, a slight slope is an asset precious. The ideal in this regard is to seek a site with a low and constant slope, without depression, and oriented to the south.

A gentle slope (less than s% to limit erosion problems) and raised beds to promote surface drainage of spring rains outside the growing area. This is also valid for heavy summer rains, which can have devastating effects on the garden.

Unfortunately, climate change causes an increase in the frequency of sudden floods. Consequently, it is necessary to plan ways to counter them.

The orientation of the slope also determines the amount of direct light the site will receive.

The south or south-east orientation will allow the site to benefit more from the morning sun and, therefore, to warm up more quickly. A land that dries quickly allows to obtain harvests earlier in the spring and gives a market gardener a competitive advantage in early vegetables. To avoid the reverse scenario, it is necessary to make sure you do not choose a bowl-shaped or north-facing site.

The inclination of the slope and the location of the site will also play a major role in terms of traffic air in the garden. Indeed, the cold air being heavier than hot air, tends to flow downwards, thus creating natural ventilation which eliminates the aid favorable to the development of diseases fungal in several cultures. This convection also plays a determining role in early frosts.

For this reason, a garden should not be located at the bottom of a slope or hill or in the hollow of a valley, because it would suffer the first frosts much earlier than a garden located up a slope.

The draining

In Quebec, the snowmelt and the abundant rains that occur in the spring inevitably cause excess water that must be managed. Poor soil drainage can quickly become a problem for crop growth, or even prevent access to the garden when important work is to be done. We can mitigate this disadvantage when cultivating on raised beds, but the adequate drainage of the site remains unavoidable. Again, the ideal is a site that benefits from a slight slope. By locating the gardens upstream of it, the runoff water can be quickly evacuated by digging simple channels that lead it to ditches or a water reserve.

Conversely, it is necessary to avoid that a site contains a major depression where water could collect. Yes, bears are present, you will need to determine if it is possible to correct them and at what cost. That said, some sites will have a varied topography. and it is not always easy to distinguish the meaning of slopes with the naked eye. The ideal is to survey the ground during heavy rain and observe how the excess water circulates. A returning to the site a few days after the rain will make it possible to notice, and to mark, if necessary, the places where water is still stagnant.

All places where water tends to collect should be given special attention. The ideal solution is to avoid cultivating at these places. You can also correct the topography of the ground by filling the depressions using heavy machinery, but this may incur costs high and damage the floor. We can also consider the construction of a rock well connected to a network of drains. They are quite easy to put on in place and may well fix the problem.

It is also possible that the accumulation of water either the result of a water table remaining too high a good part of the season. In this case, the installation of agricultural drains will be necessary. To know if the site requires to be drained underground, we can dig a few holes in places that seem more humid and change the height of the water by rep01t at the level of the ground. Underground drainage is recommended when the level of the water table is less than one meter from the ground surface at the beginning of the end of the season.

As for the installation of agricultural drains, it is necessary to know that it is not an obvious operation. Slope calculations must be made for the spacing and depth of drains. You, therefore, recommend using a company specialized. Pay for agricultural drains incorrectly installed will be a serious error, given the implications to regroove in a garden where the biology and structure of the soil took several seasons to be forme