Improve your garden soil with these 10 tips from Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
If you’re new to gardening, or just not getting the results you want, you might need to take a look at your soil’s health. From changing the pH level to adding compost, Blain’s Farm & Fleet has 10 ways you can improve your garden soil.
1. Determine if your soil is sandy, clay-based or something else. It’s important to know which kind of soil you have. Sandy soils need more organic matter because they don’t retain nutrients as well. Clay soil will need more aeration and organic matter.
2. Determine if your soil is too acidic. The pH scale ranges from 1-14, with 7 being neutral. Anything above 7 is considered alkaline and anything below 7 is considered acidic. If your soil is too acidic, you can add limestone to it.
3. Determine if your soil is too alkaline. If your soil is too alkaline, you can add ground sulfur to it. The ground sulfur acidifies the soil, raising the pH level. Different plants require different pH levels to bloom to their full potential.
4. Aerate your soil. Garden soil and plants need oxygen to thrive and survive. Turning over your soil with a garden fork–or rototiller if you want to get deeper–is a great way to add much-needed oxygen.
5. Know your USDA Hardiness Zones. Before you start blaming your soil for poor garden growth, check out your USDA Hardiness Zone. Knowing which plants will thrive in your region is beneficial for successful gardening.
6. Use fertilizer when needed. Fertilizer can help your plants bloom to their full potential. Typically, you’ll want to fertilize once before you start planting, and another time in the middle of the growing season. Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer label for the best schedule to follow.
7. Use compost. It takes a little time to create your own compost pile, but homemade compost is a great way to enrich your soil.
8. Use manure or sawdust. If you don’t have a compost pile, there are other ways to add organic matter to your garden soil. If you have leftover sawdust from woodworking, you can mix it into your soil. The only problem with sawdust is that robs nitrogen from the soil, so you’ll need to add fertilizer. Manure from your farm animals can also be added and actually improves the nitrogen levels in the soil. However, manure from livestock on a diet of hay can contain weed seeds, which can germinate in your garden.
9. Know which nutrients your soil needs. Part of improving garden soil is knowing which nutrients plants will need from the soil. Plants need hydrogen, carbon and oxygen the most, as they use those nutrients for photosynthesis. Plants also need mineral nutrients–nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium–which can be found in fertilizer.
10. Encourage worms to visit your garden. While this might sound gross, worms are essential for gardening. They feed on compost and other organic matter, and then spread it through the garden. The little guys are also great for keeping garden pests away from your plants.
Creating your own vegetable or flower garden is a great way to get outdoors and live off the land. For more tips on caring for your garden soil and getting started on your own garden, visit our Gardening blog.