Preparing The Gardening Ground: Is The Dirt In Your Spot Less Than Ideal?

Some Tips For Making The Earth A Little More Nurturing

The most important factor in all the planning, planting, growing and maintenance of your garden is your soil. Whether it’s soil you’ve never touched before, or soil you’ve broken in a little. The dirt in your garden and it’s composure is paramount to all the plants you intend to grow. At least the ones on the ground, –naturally you’re not going to worry about the dirt if you’re planning to populate all the trees in your yard with Spanish Moss. Although you’ve got to be more concerned with how quickly it’s going to kill all your trees. Serious planting calls for serious soil. Without paying due attention and effort to the ground your plants are growing in, you will be doomed to an unsuccessful garden from the very beginning. There are three things you can do to ensure quality soil in your garden, whether it’s before planting, during the growing season, or after they’ve decomposed.

Before Planting: What Kind Of Soil Do You Have?

There are many different types of soil, but essentially there are two main categories, and three subcategories for each; and then one that there is just nothing you can do with. PH is actually what you need to measure first, if you plan to go all out. These can easily be picked up from a major retailer, crafts, hobby or gardening center of a hardware store, and are usually under twenty dollars. The point of measuring is to see where your soil measures out between acidic and alkaline. Excluding those people who are lucky enough to be somewhere in the middle, there are measures you can take to cut back on acidity, or add some to your soil if it’s too high on the alkaline scale. Other factors to consider are whether your soil is sandy, clay, or peaty. Peaty sounds… hilarious to say out loud, but actually, is a really great kind of soil to have. Ideally, when you go outside, pick up a handful of your dirt, and gently squeeze, it should stay gently compressed and then resume shape when you open your hand. If it’s clay, it’s going to be fairly hard, and taught to work with, but not quite impossible. Sandy soil is just what is sounds like; if you pick up a handful of it, and it easily slides out, then you’re going to need to do some work.

To lower the acidity of your soil, you can add dolomite or lime to the area to bring back more alkaline. Otherwise, if your acidity isn’t too high, –and it shouldn’t be, unless you’re in an area where toxic chemicals drain into, –you can try growing specimens that flourish in high acidity levels. Some of these are gardenias, pines, rhododendron bushes, and many other tropical plants. To add more acidity to your soil, try tilling in garden sulfur in small increments. But don’t add plants to soon! Wait a few weeks after adding acidity, or you could accidentally destroy roots, and kill your plants before they even get started. The fourth type of soil, is rocky, and practically impenetrable. If you simply cannot work with what you have, go topical! No, I didn’t mean “tropical.” You can literally just cover that useless rock-hard ground with gravel, brick, broken branches (very small), or mulch, and start over. Build up in layers, to support drainage, root growth, and loose soil. If you used layers of mulch instead of bricking or boarding over the area, with luck, over time the soil beneath might gradually accept the nutrients. Sandy soil can be managed as well; gradually till in a good topsoil, and organic fertiliser, such as a mulch and manure mixture, water, and let it settle for a few weeks before planting.

During: Keep Your Soil Refreshed When Plants Begin To Droop Midsummer

Plants begin to wilt a little, around midsummer for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean that the season’s over, and that you can kiss your perennials goodbye until next year! A great way to keep the soil going, is called “Side Dressing.” No, it’s not a condiment, it’s a way of feeding the plants and keeping your soil enriched. Many people mistakenly begin adding large amounts of fertiliser in this season, in attempts to “save” their gardens, but accidentally end up frying their plants. The heat intensifies the acidity of the fertiliser and causes plants and roots to burn. Instead, within your rows, create a one or two inch deep little ditch. You can also border around the edges of small plots if you’ve opted to lose the rows for this season. Instead of high risk fertilisers, instead try good old fashioned fish! Remember, how our mother’s always said to bury fish heads in the garden? That’s because it works! You can find bone meal, or fish fertilisers in gardening stores, if you’d rather not spend your time doing smelly things with your hands, however.

After: Cover Crops

Cover crops were an old fashioned way of gardening that are coming back onto the scene for organic gardeners. Basically, it’s the method of planting a crop of red clover, rye grass, or something akin in early to mid-autumn, after you’ve already finished your garden’s growing season. These plants will keep nitrogen and other nutrients in the soil throughout the cold weather until spring. Then when they’re ready to grow again in spring, just till it all under. This works nitrogen that’s been locked in the soil through cold months, back through it again, and also exposes the roots of your cover crop, killing them off until next season. It’s not the waste that it sounds like; the dead vegetation creates more soil, and the nutrients are kept in throughout the season, making less work for you in the spring, and for a very low cost.

Related Articles:

Grow Flowers With Your Vegetables: How to Optimize Your Rows

How Your Garden Can Save You Money

How to Cultivate Seeds

Tips for Raised Bed Gardening

Creating Your Own Moon Garden