Shirley Bovshow's Vegetable Garden Tips

Lawn Removal:

  • Dig 4-6 inches below surface to get under the roots of the grass and then peel back sections one at a time.
  • Consider also keeping the lawn, but smothering with cardboard and newspaper to help allow grass to naturally decompose (process takes 4-8 weeks).

Tree Removal:

  • Tree will shade the garden and roots compete with the plants, so consider relocating the tree.
  • Dig relocation hole first before digging up the tree and moving.
  • Dig around the tree and preserve the roots.

Soil Test:

  • Test PH Level for essential nutrients.
  • Nitrogen test for green leafy growth.
  • Phosphorus test for fruit production.
  • Potash/Potassium test for overall vigor, disease resistance- immune system.

Tilling Soil:

  • Tillers can be rented for around $75 a day.
  • Till 6-12 inches deep.
  • Mix in small amount of compost when tilling native soil. (Compost amount varies depending on size of bed.)
  • Make sure to check for sprinkler and irrigation lines under the soil before tilling.

Soil Mixture:

  • Add compost to provide nutrients.
  • Add ideal premium top soil which is low in texture. It has good moisture retention, drainage, and is fortified with kelp, bat guano, and chicken manure.
  • Build to a mound 12-18 inches high to allow roots to grow deep.
  • Taper down edges of bed to prevent soil erosion.


  • Add organic tomato and vegetable plant fertilizer.
  • 1.5 cups per 10 square foot.

Final Step:

  • Water raised bed to allow nutrients to fully mix.
  • Let stand for at least 24 hours to allow soil and compost to settle.

Visit edible garden designer Shirley Bovshow at

Soil and compost courtesy of Kellogg Garden Products:

How to Start a Garden
How to Start a Garden