Bad soil is the natural enemy of any healthy garden. Many areas of the United States suffer from poor soil conditions, making it a challenge for gardeners to produce healthy and thriving plants that can survive difficult climates. In many cases, bad soil is often responsible for gardening failures. Here are some strategies for dealing with poor soil conditions.
Could bad soil be responsible for your lackluster garden?
How do you know if your garden is suffering due to poor soil conditions? The only true way to know if bad soil is responsible for your gardening failure is to have it tested. There are many easy ways to have your soil tested. If you have access to your local cooperative extension, you can probably arrange to send in a soil sample and have it professionally tested for a nominal fee. There are also many nurseries that offer to test soil. If your local nursery doesn't offer this service, check the World Wide Web for nurseries or Soil Testing Companies that offer this service. However, if you don't have the resources to have your soil professionally tested, you can also make an educated guess simply by examining your soil and your plants' conditions. Yellow, wilted leaves tell a story, and it's your job to figure out what that story is.
What makes for a good soil?
First, what makes for a good soil? A good soil has a balanced pH that is not too alkaline or acidic. In order to make good soil, you will have to learn to either add lime to raise the alkalinity, or add sulfur, which would help you lower the soil's pH. In order to create a well-balanced soil, you will have to make sure to add sulfur or lime slowly, introducing it at various stages in order not to shock your plants. A general rule of thumb is that you should not add more than five pounds of lime or sulfur per 100 square feet of garden space. For the best results, get your soil tested before you introduce soil amendments. That way you'll know exactly what, and how much, you should add to your garden space.
Should you add organic or inorganic nutrients?
Every modern gardener will eventually have to decide whether to add organic or inorganic fertilizers to your plants. There are many pluses and negatives to using either. First, inorganic fertilizers are relatively inexpensive, easy to use and effective. But inorganic fertilizers often have various drawbacks. For example, inorganic fertilizers often contain high salt contents that can actually damage your garden soil. It is important to understand that inorganic fertilizers will not actually amend (and thus improve) your soil. They are simply effective at feeding the plant. Moreover, some recent studies have indicated that plants can build up a resistance to inorganic fertilizers. Think of these powerful fertilizers as potent multivitamins for your plants. They can offer key nutrients, but they are not the same as feeding them.
What about organic fertilizers?
Lately there has been a lot of talk about amending poor soil with organic fertilizers. Unlike inorganic fertilizers, their organic counterparts are more slow acting. They will release nutrients over a long period of time. Choose an organic fertilizer that offers the three primary nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These slow-acting fertilizers are better for your plants because they help amend the soil and feed your garden over a longer period of time. Another important aspect of soil amendment is adding organic matter. This is an effective, natural and very inexpensive way to amend poor soil. Add organic matter such as compost, peat moss, manure and grass clippings.
Lawrence L. Hoyle, author, 54 years in the Landscape Profession. Check out his main website at: http://www.web-landscape-design-ideas.com. This website has free Landscape help for Do-It-Yourselves and a online Landscape Design Services for Homeowners, Landscape Contractors and Home Builders. Designs online since 2003 with designs in 40 states. Get your today.!
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