Have you ever looked at the soil in your garden and thought of it as more than just land? If not, you can’t, because there are more than you think. It fulfills many functions that you may not recognize, and it is important for plants that your garden has high quality soil. In this article we will look at soil functions, what types are available and finally some ways to make them healthier.
The most obvious function of soil is to support plant life. Offering physical and biological support. Physical support is given by letting the plant grow its roots through the soil to stay in place. Biological support provides the ability to store nutrients and water that plants need. It also supports other types of life.
Microorganisms and insects live in the soil, which in turn supports plant life by helping to break down organic matter and provide soil structure. Soil allows the growth of food plants that are consumed by humans, as well as plants that are used to produce medicinal products. Microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria that live in the soil and are used to make antibiotics. All life on earth depends directly or indirectly on it. This includes plant life in your garden.
What is the floor made of?
The four main components of soil are minerals, organic matter (humus), water and air. Minerals refer to inorganic elements in the soil, e.g. Stone, gravel and volume up to 40% -60% of its volume. This part of the floor usually comes from the base under the floor. Organic matter (humus) is the decomposition residue and waste products of plants and animals and has a major influence on the chemical properties of the soil, e.g. Availability of nutrition. Nearly 40% -60% of the floor volume can be space and occupied by water and air.
Different types of soil texture
Soil texture is defined as the size distribution of various mineral particles. These mineral particles are at the most basic level: sand, silt and clay. Sand particles have a diameter of 2 to 0.05 mm, mud particles have a diameter of 0.05 to 0.002 mm and clay particles have a diameter of less than 0.002 mm. The combination of these particles shows different properties in the soil and some combinations increase plant life better than others. Following are the most common soil texture classes:
It contains a high proportion of clay particles and feels like a lump. The small size of clay particles means that they accumulate easily and there is little room for airspace. Therefore, clay has poor drainage and does not store nutrients properly. This is heavy, sticky soil when wet, which makes work difficult. As far as possible, you must take steps to improve the drainage of this type of soil. You will learn later in this article.
Contains most cloudy particles and feels smooth. Because of the particle size, the soil is well drained so water can penetrate. Because of the gap, this soil has easier nutrition than clay. Easily cultivated, but can be compacted easily.
It contains a high proportion of sand particles and feels sandy to the touch, leaves a lot of space between the particles and can be dried very freely. However, this has a disadvantage because it doesn’t hold water and important nutrients can be washed away.
This is the best type of soil texture that you can have in your garden. This is soil, its properties are evenly controlled by the proportion of clay, mud and sand particles. It is well drained but does not dissolve water too easily, as is the case with sandy and sometimes smooth soil. The fact that it holds water means also storing nutrients for your plants. It has a great structure and is easy to grow.
What makes a healthy soil?
Healthy soil must be fertile and well-structured.
For the soil to be fertile, it must have available nutrients and a pH value at the recommended level for plants that will live in it. The nutrients that must be available are the main nutrients nitrogen (leaf growth), phosphorus (root growth) and phosphorus (general health). In addition to essential nutrients, trace elements such as calcium and magnesium must be included. Soil pH refers to its acidity or alkalinity and each plant has a preferred range of values. Plants placed in fertile soils become very strong and healthy specimens (if other conditions such as light conditions and climate support).
Another determinant element of healthy soil is its texture. We learned about various types of soil textures earlier in this article. Floors with a clay structure are the healthiest and we should aim for them if possible. In general, soils that store nutrients and allow water and air to enter have a positive effect on your plant life.
How to make healthy soil
Whatever type of soil you have, the addition of organic material is beneficial for your health. Organic substances are vegetable and animal residues in various forms of decomposition. This will replenish nutrients in your soil and improve its texture. You may have heard repeatedly adding scraps and glass waste to the compost heap.
This is a good idea because your compost is the best form of organic material. Compost at an advanced stage (dark and odorless) is magic for your soil. It promotes the activity of microorganisms and causes soil particles to collect and form aggregates. Aggregates can create space on the floor, which increases drainage. This is very useful for clays with poor drainage. Other forms of organic matter are animal waste and peat moss.
If your soil lacks nutrients and you don’t have access to a compost heap, you can choose between inorganic or organic fertilizer. Inorganic fertilizers (inorganic salts that are chemically produced) can be purchased in local gardens and applied in a dry form which is slightly tilted at the base of the plant, or in liquid form.
Inorganic fertilizers work well, but they have a number of disadvantages: they release their nutrients too quickly, and there is evidence that over time plants develop resistance to inorganic fertilizers, which require more and more to achieve the same effect. Organic fertilizers are more in harmony with nature because they are made from the remains or byproducts of the body. They act more slowly, but “change” the soil, not “feed” quickly than inorganic fertilizer.
The pH of your soil also affects its fertility. Each plant has a preferred pH range. To learn more about pH and how it changes, read my article about soil pH here http://www.gardenstew.com/blog/e3-9-soil-ph-and-its-effect -on-your-garden. html
The floor, like many things in the garden, must be guarded. We learned about different types of soil textures, what is fertile, healthy soil, and how to make it when there isn’t. The next step is to go to your garden, inspect your soil and help your plants if your soil is of poor quality. Your plants will thank you ten times, believe me. Good luck!