Even if you’re new to gardening, it should come as no surprise that soil plays a large role in determining just how successfully plants will grow. It not only serves to support and hold roots in place, but soil also provides many nutrients that are necessary for plants to thrive. That being said, it’s important for those trying to grow a healthy garden to know that it’s not enough to simply select the right plants and water them as needed. The soil must also be tended to properly to ensure it remains in good condition, giving plant roots the ideal environment to flourish in.
How to Choose Soil
If you must add more soil to your garden or plan to plant in a raised bed, it’s essential that you choose the right kind of soil for the job. There are several factors to think about before purchasing the first topsoil you see. First of all, some soils may have contaminants that you would prefer to stay away from, so you should always find out where it came from. Second, do you have a preference on how heavy the soil is? This may make a difference in how easy it is to work with. Also, are you looking for a longer lasting topsoil, or will a potting soil that decomposes each year be fine?
Preparing Soil for Planting
If you prepare the soil before planting, it is likely you will see far better results. Adding organic matter to your soil can go a long way in supplying even more of the nutrients plants need. This can come from compost, manure, or mulch. Once it’s spread thick over the soil in your gardening area, you can add castings and then dig the holes deep enough and wide enough according to your plant sizes.
Proper Care of Soil
Soil must be properly taken care of to encourage robust plant growth. This involves testing it from time to time to determine how nutrient-rich it is, where pH levels are at, and to check in on its texture. A pH reading of the soil will let you know if your plants have the ability to effectively absorb nutrients, indicating whether or not soil amendments or fertilizer should be added.
Improving Soil Health
To make sure your soil maintains a high degree of health, it will need a sufficient air supply to help both plants and soil organisms survive. Compost helps to provide the right amount of oxygen. Water is also vital to soil health and should stay around 25% at all times. Again, organic matter will assist in this area, as it retains water for plants until it needs to be used.
Learning When to Replace Soil
If you have adjusted your soil’s pH, added nutrients, and included a good dose of organic matter to the mix, and you notice your plants are still not developing as they should, it may be time to switch out your soil. Unhealthy soil is generally the root of all problems when it comes to unhealthy plants.