10 Jul 2012

Ways of improving Your Soil

Posted by bcsands

There are several ways of improving your soil, and it’s worth doing because nothing speaks of a well-tended garden like beautiful, healthy plants. But if you don’t know where to begin, then starting with the basics, we answer the question:-

 

What is Soil Improvement?

Much of Australia’s soil is lacking in a number of macro and micro nutrients, all of which are essential to plants. Therefore they need to be added artificially in order to grow what we want. So, adding composted animal manure, fish emulsion or seaweed fertiliser increases the supply of potassium, phosphate and nitrogen, but you still need to add trace elements such as iron, copper, manganese, sulphur, calcium, zinc, molybdenum and boron. Fortunately these can be found in any good trace element mix.

If you want to go the natural route, then get yourself a pH testing kit and find out whether your soil is acid or alkaline. Then use a manufactured fertiliser or one of these five ways to improve your soil organically:-

  • Composted waste from herbivorous animals such as cattle, horses, chickens and rabbits is easily available to supply plants with nutrients and help improve the soil pH level.
  • Vegetable matter from garden clean-ups and household peelings, grass clipping, and additions such as straw will create a compost that makes your soil exactly the right pH level for optimum plant growth.
  • You can make compost entirely out of leaf mould, especially if you have deciduous trees and bushes. This compost is particularly suited to rose growing because it makes the soil pH slightly acid.
  • Digging peat moss through clay soil is a wonderful way of breaking up the clods and also improving the acidic levels in your soil. Peat moss creates a much more workable soil and makes double digging a breeze.
  • Available from the commercial mushroom growing world, mushroom compost is a mix of partly composted matter including straw, manure and peat and when added to the average garden bed, it adjusts the pH of the soil to neutral or slightly alkaline.

 

When to Improve Soil

There are specific times to apply fertilisers and trace elements, so here are some of the circumstances when they need to be used:-

  • When you dig a hole for any plant – from a seedling to a tree
  • When there are long periods of heavy rain that leach out the nutrients
  • In early spring, when budding occurs
  • Before you begin mulching

 

How to Improve Soil by Tilling

When you are preparing a new garden bed, there is a tried and true way of ensuring the soil is well aired and drained. It’s called double digging and it involves turning the old soil, breaking up big clumps and as you are doing that, adding compost, leaf litter, manure or any other organic material. Even if you don’t have a huge area to cover, double digging will not only make your plants happy and healthy, it’ll keep you fit too!

  • You too can have those healthy plants, lawns and garden beds you see on the gardening shows just by using these simple ways of improving your soil.


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