Soils for growing early vegetable plants should absorb water readily and dry quickly on the surface. A sandy loam furnishes ideal conditions. Heavier soils can be improved by the addition of sand and rotten manure. Suitable soil for this work can often be found in garden or field, or it may be prepared by composting. The most convenient method of preparing soil for this purpose is to select a suitable area and apply manure freely. Spread the manure to the depth of 4 or 5 inches, plow the land and harrow once or twice. This work should be attended to in the spring as soon as the ground is dry enough for plowing. After the manure is partially decayed, plow and harrow again, and repeat these operations occasionally during the summer. The soil should be in excellent condition for storage in the fall.
Manure and sod, stacked in alternate layers of 4 to 6 inches deep, also make a soil of superior character for starting early plants. When soil is prepared in this manner, about a year is required for the thorough decay of the materials composted. Shoveling the pile over a few times during the latter part of the period of composting helps to secure a fine and well-mixed soil. Whatever soil is selected or prepared great care should be exercised to avoid germs of troublesome diseases. For example, soil for raising cabbage plants should never be taken from a field where any plants of the cabbage family have been recently grown. When dry enough to handle without injuring the texture, it should be stored under cover where it will not be in a frozen condition when wanted for use.