It’s All About The Soil – and 4 Ways to Improve it Easily

It’s All About The Soil – and 4 Ways to Improve it Easily

Knowing about soil can be highly beneficial for a gardener. Through this, we can understand the moisture and nutrients required for enhancing plant growth. We will walk you through the various soil types, ways to test, and methods to improve soil health.

As a point of interest, in the early 1960s, there was a comedy radio program called Beyond Our Ken. Kenneth Williams played a character called Arthur Fallowfield. Whenever he was asked a question, his usual reply was “I think the answer lies in the soil”. I am telling you this because if you do get problems relating to poor growth etc., the answer usually lies in the soil!

Types of soil

Soil type, akin to other conditions, is an essential factor in enhancing plant growth. Soil can help in holding moisture, aeration and provide nourishment to the plants. 

However, it varies from one soil to another. So now, let us have a look at the different types of soil.

·   Sandy soil

We can find sandy soil in the coastal area. Sandy soil is dry and has big particles. However, they cannot retain water and enhances water drainage. We can improve its water retention by adding nutrient matter. 

When it comes to growing plants, it is best to mix sandy soil with peat. It is an excellent way to help plants grow.

·   Silt soil

Silt soil has small and smooth particles. We can recognise this type of soil when we hold it as it would leave dirt in our palm.

Silt soil is also known as cold soil as it cannot maintain heat. It does not allow airflow as well. However, it can retain water efficiently and has a high fertility rate.

·   Clay soil

Clay soil is yellowish and has small particles. It allows the storage of water that helps in plant growth. Apart from that, it is rich in nutrients and can maintain heat. But, clay soil does not allow airflow like silt soil. 

·   Peat soil

Peat soil is one of the best soils that any gardener would want for their garden. However, it is rare, and we can obtain it by purchasing it online or from garden centres.

Peat soil, formed from dead plants and organic materials, can enhance plant growth. We can use it for different types of plants. However, it is best suited for potted plants.

·   Loamy soil

Loamy soil is like a mixture of sandy and clay soil. It has a darker shade when we compare loamy with sandy and clay soil.

It is yet another variety of soil that gardeners prefer. Loamy soil can provide enough nourishment to the plants and can retain water.

soil
The answer lies in the soil…

How to test your soil type

We can find the soil type by using a smell test or by mixing it with water. However, these tests may not provide accurate results. So, it is best to use comprehensive soil testing kits. They work on batteries and help you monitor the PH value, temperature, moisture content, sunlight, etc. They have a clear screen LCD as well. You can shop for soil testers like Sonkir Soil pH Meter from Amazon. (I am not an affiliate).

Another alternative is to purchase soil testers with litmus indicators. However, they can only test the PH value of the soil. Not application Soil Test Strips is one of the products you can consider.

How to improve the soil, easily

Based on the type of soil present in our garden, we have to improve its health and structure. Here are various methods by which you can do so.

Here is a good explanation video by B&Q. Take a look:

·   Using compost

Adding compost to soil can improve its structure. We can prepare compost from our homes using kitchen scrap. If you don’t have any, you can use a product like Growmore fertilizer from B&Q (as shown in the video).

Another way is by building vermiculture (a wormery). Compost can also enhance water retention capacity and assist in soil amendment.

·   Growing cover crops

Cover crops can help in improving soil fertility. Some examples of cover crops are radish, rye, clovers, etc. These plants can enhance the water retention capacity of the soil and also allows aeration. The best time to do this is at the end of summer – the end of the growing season basically. Think of cover crops as ‘green manure’ and they enhance the earth’s organic matter. simply grow the crop and then at the end of winter/start of spring, simply dig over the ground, to let the cover crops do their thing as a form of manure. Cover crops mean better crops, so to speak.

  • For Heavy/Clay soil

Use mustard. dig it in before winter to break up the clods of earth. Funnily enough, mustard also helps to deter garden pests, so that’s good news all round.

  • For poor soil, or where you are growing hungry crops

Also, use Phacelia as green manure for heavy soil. sow in later summer, or if you have very cold winters, sow in early spring. Phacelia really improves the structure of the soil. Bees love the flowers by the way. Also, use Clover and vetch – excellent for putting nitrogen back into the ground. It is good for growing brassicas (cabbage etc.) as they gobble up the nitrogen. Buckwheat is great too because it suppresses weeds, whilst enriching your growing area. Bees love the flowers too in the spring.

While growing cover crops, try having different varieties of them in the garden. Through this, we can enhance diversity as it would help in reducing pest infestation as well. By the way, cover crops should be dug in at least a month before you sow or plant anything in that ground. They need to break down and decompose.

These seeds are available to purchase in our shop at the relevant time

Here’s a great practical video on how to use cover crops on your beds

·   Growing deep-rooted plants

Plants like comfrey and stringent nettle can help improve the soil’s health because their roots can enhance water retention and soil structure. Through this, we can reduce the chances of soil erosion. In addition, it is because these plants can help in holding the soil particles together. Comfrey, of course, can be used to make a fabulous feed for your plants. I grow a lot of it, as it is a win-win for the earth.

·   Using manure

When it comes to creating nutrient-rich soil, we have to use manure. It is highly beneficial while growing heavy feeding crops.

If you have chickens in your garden, you can use their waste. It is because they are rich in nitrogen. Besides that, having poultry can also assist in pest control.

soil

Creating an awareness of the type of soil present in our garden and working on its improvements can enhance crop yield. It is also extremely beneficial in reducing soil erosion and can help in conserving our environment. 

So there you have it. For more information or assistance with this article, or if you want to add something that you feel is relevant, we would love to hear from you via the Contact Us page.

06/10/2021 | Blog | 0 Comments

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