Have you got the good soil on your plot?

Have you got the good soil on your plot?

Soil life is hugely beneficial for the planet it is full of liquids, gases, mineral elements, fungi, bacteria, and masses of microfauna all helping the balance of life and growth. It is the foundation for healthy plants and micro- organisms to live in. Knowing how to improve soil in your plot will create THE best growing environment for your creatures and plants.

Basically, soil has to drain well while retaining plenty of moisture so that plant roots can access the moisture and nutrients in the soil. It needs to be easy to dig. Adding organic matter, to be broken down by the creatures mentioned above, adds nutrients and water holding capacity and helps with digging. Healthy fertile, fabulous soils are rich, dark chocolatey brown and have a distinct sweet addictive smell that makes gardeners smile and feel all is right with the world.

To get this happening in your plot keep adding organic matter to your soil. Compost, manure and leaf-mould. Mostly this is a yearly event, or if you’re building a new garden bed. Plant, mulch, water and grow.

Knowing your plots soil pH is major! pH is a measurement of acidity and alkalinity.  Most plants like to live in a neutral soil between 4.5 and 7.5.  Gardenias and azaleas, like a low pH or acid soil. Veggies are happiest at 6.5. Different pH measurements mean different nutrients are available for plants to use. Which is why veggies seedlings don’t grow or die very quickly if they’re planted in an extremely low or very high pH soil and gardenias leaves quickly turn yellow in an alkaline or high pH soil. Pick up a pH testing kit and check out your soil.  Lime is added to soil to make it more alkaline and sulphur is added to soil to make it more acidic.

Soil types fall, basically, into 3 categories, clay, silt and sand. To check which type you have in your plot, moisten the soil, pick up a large spoonful and squeeze in your hand, if it holds together in a sticky lump you have clay, silt feels silky and sand will slip through your fingers.

Clay soils mean heavy digging and even though they hold moisture and nutrients can mean poor drainage. Clay soils are extremely reactive to the elements. In a hot dry summer, they can dry very quickly, bonding together which sets like concrete and leaves cracks in between. In the wet, clays soils expand, holding the moisture and starve plants of oxygen.

Adding gritty soil and organic matter to clay changes the soil structure by opening up the particles and improves the sticky texture.

Silty soil is usually fertile but doesn’t hold nutrients, if it is overwatered can become compacted and waterlogged. No aeration. Adding organic matter and old sawdust improves silty soil structure.

Sandy soil is light to dig but dries out quickly and doesn’t hold nutrients. You guessed it add organic matter and mulch. Within a year you will have a noticeable layer of delicious top soil!

If clay, silt and sand are combined with organic matter (compost, manure, leaf-mould) the soil in your plot is going to grow very healthy creatures and plants.

Springtime is a great time to garden!!!

Enjoy being in your plot!!