Improving Your Soil for Your Garden

Growing strong, vigorous plants that defy pests and diseases and yield abundantly requires healthy soil. Whether you start with new, high-quality soil or plant in your existing topsoil, upgrading your soil is a never-ending effort.

Sulfate, phosphate, and nitrogen in the soil are just some of the chemicals that cause problems in the garden. Others include heavy metals, heavy water, or a combination of all three. To improve your soil, it’s critical to have soils with balanced nutrients. Balanced nutrients provide the foundation for strong roots. Inorganic fertilizers improve soil’s pH and enable plants to use iron. Iron is vital to growing roots, so it’s critical to get enough of it into the soil. But too much iron can cause leaf rust, blossom end rot, and iron intoxication.

To prevent problems, keep a watchful eye on your soil. Too much salt in the soil can cause ponding and clogging cankers. Also, too much phosphorus causes leaf disease and too much nitrogen causes root rot. But you can get started with healthy, balanced soil by making simple adjustments.

Add organic matter.

It’s the compost you throw in with the soil that improves its texture, adds organic matter, and helps maintain moisture and pH levels. There are a variety of compost makers available for just about every type of soil, from soil you dug up from the garden or lawn to potting soil, to topsoil, to sand. You can also mix compost with the soil you use for flower beds, vegetable beds, and containers. Mixing compost with existing soil is beneficial, as it improves soil’s texture and can provide an excellent source of nutrients.

Use compost tea.

You can make your own compost tea by mixing your existing soil with compost. Just go to your local garden center, where you can find bins of compost, but why wait? Just throw a few sheets of newspaper (the “compost tea”), some peat moss, and a little soil together, mix everything together with a screwdriver or pitchfork, and pour in water until the tea thickens. Drink up! It’s a nutrient-filled beverage that you can spread on your garden beds or flower beds to improve the soil. Just drink the compost tea before you water.

Spread organic fertilizers.

Organic fertilizers are necessary for maintaining moisture, preventing and controlling weeds, and promoting healthy development. Organic fertilizers are available at your local garden center. You can also produce your own by mixing compost with compost, as I do, or by purchasing commercial “compost” fertilizers. My compost is a mixture of brown garden soil, manure, leaves, straw, and fallen leaves. Not only does it provide nutrients, but it’s organic, and very nourishing. I use it to keep weeds at bay in my flower beds and to help maintain moisture in the flower beds.

Create a good growing environment.

Healthy plants are able to draw nutrients from the soil, and they’re also able to draw in air and nutrients from the air. Without healthy plants, and plants that draw in air, you’ll have poor, unhealthy plants. A healthy plant produces air, nutrient-rich water, and a supply of oxygen to the roots. So, the most important decision to make in your garden is; do you want air, water, and nutrients to pass through your soil?

How to get the air to the roots, and make the plant healthy

Using organic fertilizers such as homemade compost tea, or a mix of compost and commercial fertilizer, can help improve the soil. The homemade compost tea can be made by soaking compost in water for about a week. Strain the water through a cheesecloth, or muslin, to remove any solid particles, and then pour it through a sieve. Let the liquid dry out overnight. Add this mixture to your garden soil every other week. Mix it by hand, if necessary. Be sure to work it into the soil very well. By doing this you’ll give the plants roots a lot of water and nutrients, so they grow big, strong roots.

Using your garden hose to spray the roots of your plants with the mixture will help keep weeds away. I use a sprayer, that works with a hose. It’s easy to use, and the leaves the plants have no large pieces of debris on them, as the leaves fall off. It’s less messy than a hoe. The mixture of compost tea and commercial fertilizer, can be used to feed garden and flower beds. You can also mix your own compost tea into any kind of compost. Mix one part of compost tea with one part of water. Spray the soil at least once a week. As long as you leave the mixture at least 24 hours between applications.

Remember, it’s important to keep the compost tea very hot, at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, you need to have it sitting down during mixing. For your convenience, I have listed a few recipe below, that just call for a single mixture. I have added a couple of new recipes in the recipe section below. Just be sure to use the single mixture, to make sure your compost tea is working. As you mix your compost tea, and continue to allow it to cool, it will get mushy.

Finally, you’ll want to give your compost tea a few hours before you add it to your soil, so it can settle. I use either a slotted container, or use a mixing bowl, to mix it. Take a look at the individual ingredients of the recipes for reference.

As long as you keep mixing your compost tea, and allowing it to cool, you’ll see your final product. The final product can be either a liquid, or a solid. It’s really all up to your preference. My final product can be called tea, but it is called compost tea, because the finished product is a liquid tea, which you can serve with a drink, like coffee. I call it compost tea, because the finished product, is just compost.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *