Good soil preparation is essential to gardening success in our rugged climate. Typically the soils in the Santa Fe area are poor in humus (organic matter), moderately to highly alkaline and low in phosphorus. Clay is the most common soil type. Other areas have gravel soils (foothill locations) and sandy loam soils (old flood plains and along arroyos).
At Mallory Landscape and Design, we recommend a 12" prep in all planting beds. A 4" layer of compost is tilled into the planting area. Compost is the most important soil amendment as it adds much needed humus and beneficial microorganisms to the soil. These microorganisms are essential to breaking down organic materials into nutrients that plants can use. We then apply a mixture of three different fertilizers: Yum-Yum mix, Planters II trace minerals, and Gro-Power Plus. Yum-Yum mix is a premium quality, natural fertilizer made with alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, kelp meal, and all natural soft rock phosphate. Planters II is a natural trace mineral fertilizer and acidifier. It is a key soil building ingredient that prevents trace mineral deficiencies, acidifies alkaline soils and stimulates plant growth by causing microbial conversion of compost and other organic materials into usable plant nutrients. Gro-Power Plus is a natural, high quality soil building fertilizer formulation rich in compost and beneficial soil microbes. At a rate of 20 pounds per 100 square feet of planting bed, this mix is worked into the top 12' of the soil with the compost to create an optimal environment for rapid plant growth.
The photos pictured below are of a newly planted garden after five months of growth. All planting beds received a 12" soil prep as outlined above. Not one plant in this very large installation perished in the first season.