Every gardener desires healthy, flourishing plants, and the first step to achieving this goal is to attain good, rich soil. The soil texture needs to have the right amounts of sand, silt, clay, and organic material. And of course, the soil should be teeming with nutrients.
So, how does one acquire such a coveted, fertile piece of earth? Do you simply add compost? Is a man-made fertilizer necessary? What is the difference between those two remedies? Let’s take a look at what is necessary in order to prepare the best possible garden soil for your crops.
The best way to detect what your soil needs is to perform a soil test. A garden soil test will determine the nutrient levels, pH rating, and organic content, giving you a clear picture of what your soil needs.
Nutrient Levels: As you are aware, the nutrient levels are a key factor in achieving the very best soil. We want our soil to be full of nutrients. A soil test will show whether or not certain elements are low. If this is the case, it would be a good idea to incorporate a fertilizer that will replace the lacking elements.
pH Reading: The pH reading will reveal the acidity of your soil. Plants need a proper pH level in order to absorb nutrients. pH is measured on a scare of 0-14. If the pH reading is less than 7.0, the soil is considered acidic, and if the pH reading is more than 7.0, the soil is considered alkaline. The most fertile soil is slightly acidic. Depending on the level of your pH, your soil may need to be treated to increase or decrease the acidity, as extremely acidic or extremely alkaline soil can become infertile.
Organic Matter Levels: The levels of organic matter will indicate whether or not compost needs to be added. Compost can be purchased, or you can make it on your own using organic matter. Good organic matter includes vegetable peelings, sawdust, old lawn clippings, ground-up twigs, straw, paper, old leaves, and aged livestock manure.
What it all comes down to is discovering the needs of your particular soil. From there, you can determine what elements are necessary to achieving luscious, bountiful growth!