The key to healthy plants is healthy soil. Understand your soil type and learn how to nurture your plants and let’s not forget about composting.
What makes garden soil great?
Soil is more than just dirt. It is a complex ecosystem, and if it’s healthy, your plants will be too! Good soil has good water-holding capacity, allowing your plants to withstand whatever mother nature throws at them!
What type of soil do I have?
Generally, there are three types – clay, loam or sand. Loam is a combination of silt, clay, and sand and is ideal for plant growing. To work out which type of organic matter you have in your garden, dig down 10 cm and squeeze a handful of soil into a ball. Loamy soil will form a rough ball that crumbles readily, with a mix of coarse and fine particles & organic matter.
Why do you need compost?
Compost is decomposing organic matter. Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material into a rich mass. Compost is essential to creating the ideal ecosystem. Anything that derives from something living can make up compost. This includes decaying plants, animals, manures, kitchen scraps, garden prunings, bark and sawdust. Adding organic matter/compost improves structure, aiding aeration and drainage. It also encourages life such as earthworms which add nutrients to the your garden bed.
How do I choose the right soil?
If you are gardening in the ground, look for topsoil or a blend. First of all, blends are great for new or existing veggie gardens, or flowerbeds. On the other hand, topsoil is good for mending lawns. Ensure any blend you are looking at includes loam and some form of compost. As long as you are regularly adding your own organic matter or compost to maintain the composition, there is not a great need for fertilizer.
If you are gardening in a container, look for a potting mix. These are generally lighter than actual soil and work better in confined areas. Adding fertilizer when using a container is a good idea as there is a smaller ‘ecosystem’ for your soil to maintain its nutrient levels.
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