Do you have a garden? Maybe you want to start one! Planting a garden is simple. There are three basic steps: soil preparation, seeding, and watering. All of these steps can be done just about anywhere globally, no matter what the climate.
Soil preparation is key to gardening success. You can make your garden flourish by buying or creating the right soil mix.
Loam comprises roughly equal parts of silt, sand, and organic matter. It is well-drained yet retains moisture. Loam is perfect for most plants.
Sand is made up of tiny crystals. It does not hold water or nutrients well, but it promotes good drainage and aeration.
Clay is also a vital soil mix ingredient. It holds moisture and nutrients but drains slowly. Clay retains compaction efficiently when walked on.
These three ingredients create the perfect blend for plant growth; mixing them in the right proportion is vital.
Loam, sand, and clay are collected or purchased separately. Loam can be found in some garden centers or bought in bulk by the cubic yard from some landscaping companies. Sieves are used to separate the different ingredients before mixing them.
Mixing is done with either a rototiller or a walk-behind tiller. The ingredients are spread in layers, with loam on the bottom and sand or clay on top, then tilled until evenly blended into the soil.
Walk-behind tillers are used for small areas (like raised beds), while larger areas (like fields) may require a rototiller. Some people save time by renting a rototiller rather than purchasing one.
Once you have the perfect blend of loam, sand, and clay, it’s time for planting.
Soil pH levels and what they mean:
If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, it will affect plant growth.
Soil pH levels are essential for plant growth. The ideal pH range for plant growth is 6.0 to 7.5. If the pH level is below 6.0, it is acidic and will need to be raised by adding lime. If the pH is above 7.5, it is alkaline and will need to be lowered using sulfur. How much of each ingredient (lime or sulfur) you need will depend on how acidic or alkaline the soil is.
Loosen the top few inches of soil with a spade or long-handled hoe and mix in the required amendments. Be sure to read the instructions carefully, as too much of either amendment can be harmful.
Once the soil is prepared, it’s time to plant! The best time to plant is when the temperature is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are many different plants you can grow in your garden, so be sure to choose the ones that will thrive in your climate and soil type.
How to test your soil’s pH level:
Get a soil test kit from your local garden center or order one online. Follow the testing instructions carefully.
Remember that pH levels fluctuate during the year, so it’s good to retest every few weeks and add amendments when necessary.
What are some common types of soils used in gardening?
Sandy soil comprises large particles and drains quickly but doesn’t hold nutrients or moisture well. It may need to be improved with organic matter such as manure or compost or mixing peat moss. Sandy soil should be tested periodically because it tends to get hard when dry and sticky when wet.
Clay soil is made up of tiny particles that stick together but drain poorly. It is very dense and tends to compact easily. Clay soil doesn’t hold nutrients or moisture well, so it needs to be mixed in organic matter.
Loam is the best soil type for growing plants because it’s a mixture of all three basic soil types: silt, sand, and clay. It drains well, retains moisture, and is easy to work with. It can be found in some garden centers or bought in bulk by the cubic yard from some landscaping companies.
How can I tell if the soil in my yard needs fertilizer or not?
You can do a soil test to see what nutrients your soil might be lacking. Loosen the top few inches of soil with a spade or long-handled hoe, then mix in the required amendments. You can order a test kit online or buy one at your local garden center. Plant roots take up different nutrients depending on their type. Tomatoes, for example, need a lot of nitrogen. Beans need plenty of both nitrogen and potassium. Many plants have specific nutrient needs, so be sure to read about the types of plants you want to grow before choosing what kind of fertilizer to use.
Can I use compost as a soil amendment?
Compost is made from decomposing organic matter, such as leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and fruit cores. It’s an excellent soil amendment because it adds organic matter, which helps retain moisture and nutrients. Compost also makes clay soil more porous and sandy soil more water-retentive. You can make your compost or buy it from a garden center.