Do you have a problem getting your garden to grow? Have you tried fertilizers and regular watering but your plants still come out looking pretty sad? Before you chalk it up to your seemingly brown thumb you may consider that your problem may be improper soil. Often soils don’t have the right texture or chemical properties for plants to grow well. They need a little help. The good news is: even though you can’t replace the soil you have, there are things you can do to make it a better environment for your plants. Fixing your soil takes a few simple steps. With a little work you’ll be on your way to having a beautiful garden in no time.
The most common problem with soil is that it isn’t the optimal texture. The best soil for growing a garden is loam. Loam holds appropriate amounts of water and allows enough aeration in the soil. Sandy soil doesn’t allow proper drainage or aeration. Clay soil gets very hard and can allow essential moisture to wash away without ever penetration into your plant’s roots.
To test your soil, wet it slightly and take a ball or soil in your hand. If your soil is sandy, it won’t form into a ball. If it is clay, it will form into a ball and not break apart easily. Both these problems can be fixed by mixing in a thin layer of compost into your soil with a gardening fork. For sandy soil, add fine particles of compost. Add coarser particles to loosen up a clay soil.
Another common problem with garden soil is an improper pH level. You can find kits to test your soil’s pH at most garden supply stores. The pH of your garden should be between 6.0 and 7.5. Anything higher or lower is too acidic or too alkaline for proper growth. If your soil is too acidic, you can raise the pH level by adding various materials, including: crushed egg, clam or oyster shells, wood ashes, or calcitic lime. For an alkaline soil, pH can be lowered using sawdust, wood chips, peat moss, or pine needles.
Now you are on your way to a gorgeous garden…well unless of course you really do have a brown thumb.