Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘improving soil’

These days everyone is concerned about proper nutrition and what we put into our bodies; but what about our turfgrass and the plants we grow? How do we take care of their nutritional needs?

Good rich soil provides the perfect growing environment for your plants

Good rich soil provides the perfect
growing environment for plants

Soil is obviously very important to plant growth. It not only provides a physical medium in which your plants grow, it is also a reservoir of nutrients, air, and water – three requirements for plant growth.

Most of the nutrients needed for the growth and development of plants are absorbed from the soil by the roots. Over the seasons, these soil nutrients become depleted and must be replenished or plant health will decline.

Because the makeup of the soil is so important to the health and well-being of your plants, it should become very important to you as a gardener.

Awareness of the properties of your garden soil will allow you to adapt your cultural practices so your soil environment will be most conducive to healthy plant growth, whether it be a flower garden, vegetable garden, or your lawn. The nutrients that will give you a thick, lush, and green lawn are very different than the nutrients required to have a thriving and productive vegetable garden.

Understanding Plant Nutrients

There are 17 chemical elements known to be essential for plant growth, flowering, and fruiting.

Primary macronutrients

Maintaining a lush green lawn requires more nitrogen and correct pH.

Maintaining a lush green lawn
requires more nitrogen
and correct pH

The primary macronutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), are used in the largest amounts by plants and are thus prone to deficiency in soils. These nutrients are the primary ingredients in most garden fertilizers and the percentages of each are prominently displayed on the bag as the N-P-K numbers. These percentages are always presented in the same order – nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium.

Nitrogen is required for healthy vegetative growth (leaves and stems) and is especially important in young plants. High levels promote dark green leafy growth but not fruits and flowers. Thus a fertilizer higher in nitrogen is great for lawns and leafy vegetables but disastrous when you are trying to grow tomatoes!

Phosphorus is important in all functions of plant growth but especially for root development and growth, and in the production of flowers, fruits, and seeds. Starter fertilizers, which can be used when transplanting trees, shrubs, and perennials, are much higher in phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium. They stimulate root growth and help avoid transplant shock. “Bloom booster” fertilizers with 20%-30% phosphorus help promote flower bud formation.

Potassium is important for the overall vigor of plants. It promotes disease resistance, root formation, and cold hardiness. Plants deficient in potassium will have weak roots and stems.

Secondary macronutrients

The secondary macronutrients are calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). These nutrients are very important to plants but are used in smaller amounts than the three primary macronutrients.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients, also known as trace elements, are not nutrients of lesser importance to plant health but those that are required in minute quantities. With the exception of iron and manganese, micronutrients are seldom deficient in our garden soil, however, some can become unavailable to plants when the soil pH is either too high (alkaline) or too low (acidic). Maintaining your soil pH between 6.0-6.5 will keep these nutrients available to the plants. Some fertilizers are fortified with micronutrients.

What’s in YOUR soil?

A bountiful harvest depends on building and maintaining proper soil nutrients.

A bountiful harvest depends on
providing proper soil nutrients.

So your lawn is thin and patchy or your vegetable garden is not producing like it used to or your plants just aren’t blooming? It may well be your soil. You probably need to add fertilizer, but what kind and how much? Is your soil deficient in nitrogen? Maybe phosphorus? Perhaps the pH is not optimal. How would you know?

The easiest way is to get your soil tested. Sound hard? Not really and the analysis from these tests will allow you to make informed decisions on how to improve the soil environment for your lawn and garden plants. If you choose to have your soil tested professionally, you will not only be provided with a detailed analysis of the soil but you’ll also receive specific recommendations for amendments to improve the pH and also nutrient content if necessary.

Easy Online Soil Testing …

ThinkSoilThe lawn care professionals at MyTurfandGarden.com have developed a unique, on-line and very straightforward way to test your soil. It’s called Think Soil™.

A soil analysis from Think-Soil™ will provide essential information on relative levels of organic matter, pH, lime requirement, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and levels of plant-available nutrients contained in your soil.

Simply go to MyTurfandGarden.com, and click on Soil Testing in the top menu. There you can read all about it and see how easy it is.

Follow the instructions or watch the YouTube video demonstrating how to take a soil sample from your garden or lawn. Within days of placing your order, you’ll receive a pre-addressed envelope, a leak proof zip-lock baggie, and detailed instructions. After you collect your soil sample, just place the baggie with the sample into the pre-paid envelope and give it to your postal carrier. There is no cost for shipping.

Once your soil sample arrives at the lab, the test results will be ready for you to review within 36 hours. You will be notified by e-mail as soon as the test results are available.

Beautiful lawns and gardens require proper nutrition and soil properties

Beautiful lawns and gardens require
good soil with proper nutrients
and amendments

In addition, Think-Soil™ consultants are available toll free to help with any questions about your test results and to offer advice on what’s needed to remediate your soil. For the first time you’ll have the information needed regarding how much product is needed, how best to apply it, and when to do it.

For the month of August, Think-Soil™ has an introductory offer of 50% off all soil tests plus no cost to send your soil sample.

Doing a soil test is one of the best ways to insure that you amend your soil to provide just what your lawn, vegetables, and/or your flowers need to thrive.

Remember next month is Lawn Care Month. September marks the beginning of the best season for most lawn projects. Be ready!

“Don’t Guess – Do the Test!”

Until Next Time – Happy Gardening!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Good rich soil provides the perfect growing environment for your plants

Good rich soil provides the perfect
growing environment for your plants.

In not too long, we will all be itching to get out in our vegetable and flower gardens to start the planting season. But, since it is way too early for most of us to even think about working in the soil, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk ABOUT soil.

Soil is obviously very important to plant growth. It not only provides a physical medium in which your plants grow, it is also a reservoir of nutrients, air, and water – three requirements for plant growth.

Because it is so important to the health and well-being of your plants, it should become very important to you as a gardener. Awareness of the properties of your garden soil will allow you to adapt your cultural practices so your soil environment will be most conducive to healthy plant growth.

What kind of soil do you have?

Mineral soils, the most common soil type, are classified by particle size – clay, silt, and sand. The soil texture is the relative percentages of these different sized particles in your soil. In most soils, one of these particle sizes predominates and this is used to classify the soil. Since silt is usually present in small quantities, most soil is classified as either sandy (largest particle size) or clay (smallest particle size).

Clay soils are dense, drain poorly, <br>and stay cold and wet well into spring.

Clay soils are dense, drain poorly, and stay cold and wet well
into spring.

Clay soils are made up of small plate-like particles and thus have the smallest pore spaces (spaces between particles). This causes very slow drainage and is why clay soils waterlog so quickly. Clay soils are easily compacted when wet which further reduces pore space and makes the drainage problems even worse. This is a common problem around new construction where heavy equipment packs down the soil. On the positive side, clay soils have the capacity to hold lots of nutrients!

This garden soil has better organic content.

This garden soil has better
organic content.

Sandy soils are made up of large (relatively), irregularly shaped particles. These create large pore spaces and are thus fast draining and dry out very quickly. Sandy soils do not compact but they also do not hold fertilizer nutrients well, as the nutrients tend to quickly wash out of the soil due to the fast drainage.

Loam soils are the best of all worlds because they are made up of a combination of sand, silt, and clay, possessing characteristics of each relative to the amount of each in the soil. Loam soils hold water – yet not too much; they hold nutrients; and they don’t compact like heavy clay soils.

What can you do to improve your soil?
The number one solution for poor soil, whether it is clay or sandy, is to add organic matter. Even in small quantities, the addition of organic material greatly improves the quality of your soil for several reasons:

  • Blue Ridge Organics "Super Compost" adds rich organic matter to the soil.

    Blue Ridge Organics
    “Super Compost” adds rich
    organic matter to the soil.

    It provides a source of nutrients as it decomposes, acting like a slow release fertilizer.

  • It improves the structure of clay soils. As organic matter decomposes, it releases humic acid which acts as a glue to bind tiny clay particles together into larger aggregates, thus giving it properties more like sand and allowing it to drain better.
  • It improves the water and nutrient holding capacity of sandy soils by acting like a sponge.
  • It improves aeration and stimulates healthy root formation.
  • It adds beneficial microbes to the soil which speed up decomposition and thus the release of nutrients to the soil. This helps keep the soil in a healthy, balanced condition.
A compost bin can easily be made out of wooden pallets

A compost bin can be made
out of wooden pallets

There are many different forms of organic matter that can be added to your soil to help improve its texture and structure. Good quality compost, such as Blue Ridge Organics “Super Compost”, can be found pre-packaged in large bags at your local garden center. Good organic material can also be brought in by the truckload or you can make it yourself by creating a compost bin or by shredding your fall leaves. In many towns and cities, composted leaves are available free of charge or for a nominal fee – you might just have to call and arrange to pick it up. Other forms of organic matter to enrich your soil are: leaf mold, peat moss, composted manure, composted hay or grass clippings, green manure (a cover crop such as alfalfa that is tilled under in spring), and finely shredded bark mulch.

The Bottom Line …
Adding organic matter to your soil, regardless of what type of soil you have, can only improve it. Deep well-drained soils with good soil texture hold a lot of nutrients and retain the optimum amount of water. The addition of good organic material makes poor soils better and good soils great!

Until next time – Happy Gardening!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: