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3 great tips for keeping your soil in top shape

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3 great tips for keeping your soil in top shape

3 Great tips for keeping your soil in top shape

Many people who are new to gardening think that it just involves heading outside with a trowel and some seeds, planting them, then adding water until something sprouts from the ground. They are right to an extent, but many people do not realise the intricacies involved in tending to a garden that will thrive all year round.

One of the most important aspects to having a successful garden is to have healthy and nutrient rich soil for your plants. The soil is their home, and without being properly cared for, they will fail to reach their full growing potential, or may not grow at all. We’ve decided to help you out by sharing some essential soil care tips.

Know your soil

It is important that you know what kind of soil is in your garden, as it will affect how you care for it and what plants you will be able to grow there. Soil type can be recognised by the presence of clay, sand, and silt. The ideal soil, known as loam, has equal amounts of all three, allowing you to dig through it easily while providing a fertile source of nutrients for your plants. Loam soil also drains very well.

There are six main types of soil:

• Chalky: Usually have a very high alkaline level and can be both light or heavy.
• Clay: These soils have a heavy texture, but are high in nutrients. They can get wet and cold during the winter months and dry in the summer.
• Loamy: The perfect combination of clay, sand, and silt.
• Peaty: A very moist soil with plenty of organic matter.
• Sandy: These soils often have high acidity levels, and are also light and dry. They don’t offer a lot of nutrients.
• Silty: These soils have a lot of moisture and are very fertile. They can also be easily compacted.

The best way to determine what kind of soil that you have is to get your hands dirty and feel it. You can try adding a small amount of water and rolling it in your hands to better observe how it looks and is composed. Decide whether your soil is sandy, clay, or silty. Sandy soil is gritty and cannot be rolled, whereas clay is sticky when wet and can be rolled into a sausage easily. Silt soils are less common in gardens, have a slick texture, and do not clump together well.

You can find out more about identifying soil types in the Royal Horticultural Society’s advice article, which goes into more detail about the ways you can classify your soil and carrying out acidity tests to provide more precise information.

Improve your soil with compost

One of the best ways that you can improve your soil is by adding organic matter, such as compost. Every soil will be improved when compost is mixed in with it, no matter what type you have. Not only will it help to hold your soil together and improve moisture retention, but it will provide a great food source to the microorganisms that are crucial to your soil’s health.

You can even save yourself money and improve your recycling habits by making your own compost. Almost any organic waste can be utilised to create compost, ranging from garden cuttings to waste leftovers from your kitchen. This makes it the perfect method of turning items that would have been thrown away into something that is beneficial for your soil. Invest in a composter to achieve the best results — this Mantis ComposTumbler allows you to create compost at an accelerated rate, as well as allowing for easy mixing and removal.

Protect your soil with mulch

Covering your soil with organic mulch, such as straw, hay, grass clippings, and shredded bark can protect it from extreme temperatures, reduce water loss from evaporation, and prevent the growth of weeds. Being organic, they will also break themselves down and give your soil extra nutrients. The only drawback to using them is that they need to be replaced with a new layer once they have been absorbed into your planting bed.

You can choose to use inorganic mulches, like pebbles, gravel, and black plastic, which will provide a similar level of protection from evaporation and weeds to their organic counterparts. They also do not need replacing as much as organic mulch, as they cannot be broken down. However, in turn you will not receive the benefit of the extra nutrients that is provided by natural mulches. The Family Handyman has a very insightful guide to everything you need to know about mulches.

Follow these three care tips and you will be able to grow your plants with the confidence of having top quality soil. You can then look forward to a healthy, thriving garden all year round. Last modified on
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Guest Wednesday, 03 March 2021