Having a good quality of garden soil plays an essential role in the overall growth of plants raised there. You might be thinking why should we have good soil for gardening? The reason is healthy soil is able to hold and process more water needed by plants to grow optimally.
The problem is, now when we have bad soil in our garden, what we should do? No worries since there are a couple of ways to improve it. You can actually make the soil in the garden to be light and fluffy so that it much easier to support your planting works there.
10 Ways to Enrich the Garden Soil in The Garden
Here is a guide that helps you to know everything to manage soil in the garden so that it has a better quality. By doing so, you will have good quality planting media that optimally support your plants’ growth.
1. Benefit from Organic Materials
During the spring there are so many activities that happen out of sight down there in the ground. It’s time for soil organisms to proliferate. These microorganisms that living in the soil help flourish the soil in your garden. They doing jobs like recycling the soil nutrients, storing water, improve soil quality, and beat pests.
Taking care as well as adding organic materials are effective to maintain soil health throughout the year. Like a human, soil requires some basic requirements for its longevity which consists of wood, water, air, and a suitable place for living.
Organic materials are the main ingredients to form healthy soils. You can create from a variety of different organic items surround you. Let’s say fallen leaves, kitchen leftovers, and rotten fruits from your garden. Autumn is known to be the ideal time to start feeding your soil with these organics.
Chop the organic materials you want to use into smaller pieces and spread them directly about 2 inches of the garden soil and put mulch on top of it. For a better result, you also can use mineral phosphorus, potassium fertilizers, and concentrated manures.
Adding a lime helps to balance the soil condition too. Feeding the soil with these organics during autumn will prepare them to be ready for use in the spring.
2. Let the Worms do the Work
Rather than performing manual works like rototilling or double digging, it will be more efficient to take advantage of living organisms to do the tilling process. For this job, worms will do the best, especially for utilizing a sheet mulching technique.
Sheet mulching refers to a technique of creating compost on the soil surface. To do this compost making technique, you need to plan in advance. The ideal option for new gardens is a year prior to planting time. Meanwhile, for an existing garden, you can start only several months previously.
This technique enables forming a new soil exactly from the ground up. It not only enriches the nutrients in the soil but also reduces weeds as well as produces firmer soil. When making for new gardens, adding cardboard to the bottom layers helps to obstruct the growth of previous vegetation.
Then, make multiple layers of 2 to 4 inches from green as well as brown composts. This allows the worms to tunnel inside the soil whilst carrying their foods. During this process, the worms significantly develop better soil structure whilst storing natural manures which are beneficial for the garden soil.
3. Grow the Cover Crops
Another effective way to enrich the soil is by letting nature taking a role. You can take the benefits of cover crops or green manures to naturally improve the soil condition. For instance, during the summer you can grow buckwheat or phacelia while daikon or clovers are suitable to grow in the autumn.
Growing cover crops helps to supply the organic materials, maintaining the soil structure, as well as adding the required nutrients to the garden. They also serve a function as a living mulch that protecting soil and reducing the growth of the weed during the less active season.
A couple of weeks before planting, trim the cover crops that you grow until the end of winter. Once the growing season comes, plant fast-growing cover crops like buckwheat in the gap that divides spring and fall plants. During planting seasons, remove the buckwheat and make it as mulch to fertilize the beds.
4. Check with a Soil Test
A soil test is an essential tool, particularly when you just want to make a new garden. It will give you detailed information about your garden condition. By doing the test on the soil, you soon find out the reasons why the garden health sinks.
Mostly, the cause of low soil health is actually the loss of some important nutrients in the soil. To best time to conduct a soil test is either the end of summer or the beginning of autumn. Once the soil test completes, take the result into a certified lab.
There, the lab experts will help to analyze the condition of the soil and give the right information to you. From the lab results, you will know what nutrients are missing in the soil of your garden. Then, you can decide the suitable fertilizers and lime materials used to balance the soil condition.
5. Complete Its Fertilizers
As your garden passes several planting seasons, the living soils there recycle and hold the majority of nutrients. They also reduce and remove the need for additional fertilizers. It will be a bit different if you just start a new garden because additional fertilizers and lime provide completer nutrition for the next season.
If you forget to give fertilizers and lime to the soil during the autumn, then you can do it a couple of weeks prior to planting at the beginning of the spring season. The soil test result you have obtained is pretty useful to know what types of fertilizers the soil really needs.
Generally, you can buy a complete organic fertilizer and use the suitable fertilizers suggested by lab results. For veggies gardens, scratch the soil surface first and use the fertilizers in about 2 inches on its surface. Meanwhile, perennial gardens only spread the mix of fertilizers and lime on the soil without digging.
If you find the soil is a bit dry, you can slightly water soil around the plants as needed. Then, complete the fertilizing process by covering the soil with mulch.
6. Give Adequate Nitrogen
Among important plant nutrients, nitrogen should be on the top list due to its benefits for improving soil quality. Although a living soil will repeatedly recycle and hold its nutrients, nitrogen is only available in small amounts even the soil building has occurred in long years.
Nitrogen is beneficial both for feed the soil plants and their organisms. Due to this reason, nitrogen plays an essential role in garden growth as well as soil health in the long run. That’s why people used to add nitrogen in their gardens for achieving better soil conditions.
Anytime you want to grow plants each year, make sure your garden has an adequate amount of nitrogen by counting the additional sources you have used. Concentrated nitrogen can be taken from organic fertilizers such as seed, blood, as well as feather meals.
Planting fall and spring cover crops in the garden allow nitrogen transfer from the atmosphere to the garden soil. You also can take the nitrogen sources from the manures or green grass mixed as amendments. Oppositely, compost doesn’t provide sufficient nitrogen supply for the garden.
However, compost is a good way to have better whole soil health. You require to add nitrogen sources to the soil whenever you use compost as an amendment.
7. Remove the Weeds
When the spring comes the garden will start to flourish. The same thing also happens for the weeds. Hence, before you start planting, you should control their growth. Weeds not only hinder the optimal growth of garden plants but also steal their organic foods coming from the living soil.
In order to remove the weeds, you can begin by using fall mulching to control the spring weeds. Pull any weeds as fast as possible whenever it appears during the spring. It is they are still small which is make you easier to manage them.
If they are not considered poisonous weeds, you can just simply lay them on the soil surface and put about 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch on their top. Covering garden beds since the beginning not only helps to remove weeds but also supplies organic materials to the soils.
8. Control the Pests
There are several pests living in the soil that can reduce its quality. Thus, if you want to enrich the soil you should keep them under control. Among soil pest lines, root aphids are known to be problematic ones because they can multiply fast and hard to see.
Aphids sap much vigor from the plants that slowly kill them. Plants affected by root aphids will be getting weaker and weaker and it is signed by curled and yellow leaves. Any plant blossoms will appear in small and stunted sizes once infected by this pest.
It is important to know how to get rid of aphids so that the plants still can take the benefits of important nutrients from the garden soilfor their optimal growth. To control the aphids spread, you need to remove the affected plants and destroy them.
Never wait for the affected plants to produce flowers or fruits because, at the same time, you give chance for aphids to affect the whole garden. If you plant using pots, make sure to sanitize all of them once you discover any aphids in that area.
9. Trim the Perennials
If your garden consists of a wide variety of soils such as hedges, perennials, and fruit trees, you have an abundance of materials for soil amendments. Tree pruning at the beginning of spring as well as hedges and perennial trimmings give the soil organic materials when they recycle in the garden.
A combination of various garden debris and pruned trees produce a good quality of mulch. When they are still in green condition, they also serve as a nitrogen source when used as one of a mulch layer. The result of perennial trimmings can be used as a mulch, a mulch compost layer, and amendment for bed soil.
Otherwise, you can chop perennials into smaller pieces, use them as a mulch, and place them right under the perennials you have trimmed before. This composting method resembles how plant leaves fall in nature and return their benefits to nature.
10. Let the Soil Breathe!
To have a better soil quality, you have to balance what you do and what you don’t do. Prior to planting the garden in the spring, there is the most essential soil care which sometimes people skip. It will affect the overall soil condition. The key is, first, you need to let the wet soil from the spring season dry.
Any activities such as digging, tilling, or scratching when the soil still in its wet condition, especially when it is mixed with clay can damage the soil structure. It will make all of the soil building efforts that you have done turn into waste.
When this condition occurs, you actually let the air move out from the soil which results in smaller space for organisms to breathe as well as roots to grow optimally. It is pretty easy to determine whether the soil in your garden is ready for planting.
All you have to do is just take a handful of soil and slowly squeeze it. If you see any water comes out, you need to wait for few weeks. It is to ensure that the soil is completely dry and ready for work.
Those are several ways that you can do in order to make a great quality of garden soil. As the soil in your garden improves, it will effectively preserve the water as well as important nutrients and supports the plants to grow optimally.