A Guide for Gardeners – Soil and Nutrient Management
In the same way that we test the soil before we lay the foundations of a house, the preparation that you put into your garden lays the foundation for the quality and quantity of your yield. This depends largely on the health of the soil in which you plant your garden, so getting the soil right is the most important step to having plenty of healthy vegetables, herbs and other plants.
One easy assessment that will provide you with some important information about the health of your soil can be done simply by viewing the colour of the soil. Dark brown or black soil indicates the presence of decaying organic matter, which means that the soil is likely to be quite fertile. Pale-coloured or yellow soil shows that there is a lack of organic matter and nutrients so the soil will need organic matter added to bring it up to where it needs to be for growing healthy plants. Red soil indicates the oxidising of iron compounds and although this soil will have good drainage, it will need the addition of organic matter and nutrients before planting.
Healthy soil is alive with vitality and provides food for the plants to ‘eat’ while they are growing. Organic matter is responsible for this life and vitality and this is where the nutrients for the soil live. It also holds moisture and attracts microorganisms and earthworms, which assist the fertility and structure of the soil. Organic matter consists of anything that was once alive such as compost, manure, mulch, lawn clippings and leaf matter.
Testing your soil for nutrients is a good way of working out what it needs and how you can provide it. Different fertilisers have various chemical compounds so testing the soil will give you an idea about which one is needed for the different plants you are growing.
Another way that you can provide nutrients for your soil, apart from organic matter, is through adding water soluble fertilisers. Nitrogen fertilisers need to be added frequently in small doses, so that the plants have time to use them without the fertilisers making the soil too acidic, which will burn the roots of the plant. Organic fertilisers such as manure will release nutrients slowly, and give the plant time to use them.
For more information about getting your soil as healthy as it can be, come in and talk to one of our experts at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre today.