5 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR SOIL
1. REGULATE THE PH LEVELS IN YOUR SOIL
Identify your soil type.
Firstly, figure out the type of soil you have before testing it or adding anything to it. Determine whether your dirt is loose, dry, clumpy, or damp. This can help you understand what could be involved in improving the soil. Identify your soil type as soon as possible. Loose, well-drained soil will be easier to work with. On the other hand, clay-rich, compacted soil will be challenging to modify, but not impossible. Knowing your soil type can assist you to choose the most effective way to apply any materials to it. If you would like to know more about identifying your soil type, please visit our blog: “Understanding soil quality”
Learn about soil pH.
In order to modify your soil, be aware of its pH. The pH of soil indicates how acidic or alkaline it is. On a scale from 0 to 14, the pH of the soil is measured, with 7 representing a neutral pH that is neither acidic nor alkaline. Anything that is alkaline or less than seven is acidic. Most plants, as well as earthworms and microbes that benefit your plants, prefer a pH between six and seven and a half.
Take into account what you are planting.
The pH of your soil depends on the kind of plants you plan to grow. Many plants, especially flowers and some fruit plants like blueberries, require a more acidic soil. Find out what the pH levels are that are suggested for the plants you intend to grow. Acidic soils favour azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, and conifers (pH 5.0 to 5.5). Most ornamentals, grasses, and vegetables prefer slightly acidic soils (pH 5.8 to 6.5).
Test your soil.
Once you are aware of the pH and type of soil you are working with. You can mail a sample to a company that will test it for you or purchase a commercial test at your neighbourhood home and garden store. Digging a hole, adding water, and then sticking a test probe into murky water is the simplest approach to testing your soil. However, sending a sample of your soil for analysis will provide you with a more precise idea of its pH and other components of your soil.
2. Encourage Mycelium in your soil
The vegetative portion of the fungus that inhabits and spreads throughout nearly all of the planet's landmasses is represented by the white, spiderweb-like mycelium, a network of cells. The neurological network of nature.
They disintegrate organic matter for utilization in the soil ecosystem, mycelia are crucial to the health of the soil.
Most plants absorb water and nutrients more effectively and can fight some plant infections thanks to beneficial mycelia. Numerous soil invertebrates depend on it as a major food source.
Mycelium is essential to all ecosystems and agriculture because it helps keep vegetation healthy and resilient. Given that it cannot create its own food and is dependent on plants for nutrients, it is more comparable to the animal kingdom than the plant kingdom.
Although soil microbes are invisible to the naked eye, they do exist; like observing the earth from space, they become noticeable when the biological lights are turned on.
3. CREATE PERMANENT GARDEN BEDS AND PATHWAYS
One rule that I learned early in my garden training is to never walk in garden beds. Stepping on garden soil compacts it, which destroys tilth as well as beneficial soil organisms and their habitat.
Establish permanent beds and walkways so that the beds are clearly defined.
Keep them narrow enough that you can reach all areas without stepping inside to keep foot traffic out. Beds created in this way can improve each year rather than starting each season in a compacted state from last year’s walkways.
In addition to keeping soil in the garden beds loose, permanent beds also save time and money.
Rather than applying costly amendments over a broad area, you need only apply them to permanent bed areas, skipping the pathways. Irrigation installation is easier, too, since the beds are permanent fixtures.
Permanent pathways of white clover, micro clover, or wood chips attract beneficial insects and fertilise the garden.
4. CHOOSE NOT TO TILL
A tiller is just a temporary fix and it can have negative long-term consequences on soil, even though it may be effective on vast farms where managing soil by hand would be impractical.
Tilling can encourage the soil to wash away in the rain or blow away in the wind. It may also eliminate advantageous soil organisms.
Fortunately, tilling is unnecessary when growing crops in a tiny backyard plot to create loose soil for planting.
A digging fork or a broad fork is helpful in a no-till garden since it can break up the soil without eradicating microorganisms. Before planting, the top few inches of soil should be carefully aerated and loosened.
Alternatively, you can lay down cardboard boxes and spread a thick layer of topsoil or compost over them. Let it lay for 6 weeks, then pop your plants straight into the soil.
5. ADD ORGANIC MATTER
Often, the soil we start with is not the best for growing trees and other plants. Even if you start with excellent soil, you still need to amend it in the fall because you've been using the nutrients it had all season.
The amount and kind of organic matter in the soil affect a wide range of functions. Three types of organic matter assist the soil by giving stability and pore space, increasing soil structure and water retention, and offering nutrients.
Plant remnants, microorganisms, detritus, and more microbes are all examples of organic matter. The result of the bacteria' breakdown of these plant elements is humus, a more durable type of organic matter. Compost, animal dung, crop remnants, and cover crops are all sources of organic matter for the soil. These may also include leaves, grass clippings, and compost from your kitchen in your yard.
By looking after the soil in your garden you make sure the vegetables, herbs, flowers, other plants and trees all have the chance to grow optimally.