Hi. I’m Terry Allen with SEEDS OF CHANGE™. And today, we’re here at the beautiful Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago talking to Jeannie Nolan.
I’m the founder of The Organic Gardener Ltd. and the director of The Edible Gardens in Lincoln Park Zoo, which I pant and maintain on behalf of Green City Market. I’ve been growing food for over 20 years, and I’m very excited to help you get started on your gardening journey.
As organic gardeners, we choose not to use synthetic fertilizer, herbicide or pesticide. Instead, as the plants take nutrients from the soil, each year we add back in compost and certified organic fertilizer.
Proper soil preparation is a crucial part of having a successful organic garden. Your ultimate goal when you’re preparing soil, whether you’re in the ground, in a container or in a raised bed, is to achieve 18 inches of well-aerated nutrient dense soil.
If you’re growing in a container, the only tool you will need is a trollop. If you’re growing in the earth or in a raised bed, you’ll need a few other tools: you’ll need a round nosed shovel and a hard rake and you’ll be good to go.
The first step to well-prepared soil is aerating, or loosening up, your soil. This is really crucial, so that the roots of the plant can travel through the soil.
You can see that our soil is full of worms. When you see a lot of worms in the soil, it’s a good indicator that the soil is healthy, which makes for healthy plants.
Even though we’ve been gardening here for seven years, we still add fresh compost every year. We also use a good quality certified organic all-purpose vegetable fertilizer. Read the back of the packet for directions on how much to apply. Mix your compost and fertilizer thoroughly into your soil.
The final step is to rake the soil smooth to prepare it for planting. Now you’re ready to direct seed into your well-prepared, smooth seed bed.

For more great organic gardening tips, check out other videos from SEEDS OF CHANGE™.


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