What is the key to a thriving garden? A common question people in the gardening world ask from experts. To get it right, you should get many things right. From choosing the right seeds to watering; getting everything right is crucial for a thriving garden. Anyway, every expert gardener focus more on one critical factor. That is the soil in your garden. A nourishing soil with all the essential nutrients is the key here. Preparing Soil — what do you know about it? OK, let’s talk about all these critical topics in this article including the Soil Test Kit, which is a must-have during the garden soil preparation process.
Can I improve soil for my dream garden crop? Is that what you are thinking right now? Well, we have good news for you! Yes, you can improve any soil by using the correct techniques. Anyway, some challenges are there to overcome (especially, when preparing for the first time.) Years of rainfall, climate changes, sunlight, and weeds have washed away all the nutrients in the soil. From where to start? OK, go the nearest house improvement store or the hardware to buy a Soil Test Kit. You may want to buy other gardening tools such as the rake, shears, and so on. Buying fertilizers without confirming available soil nutrient levels with a Soil Test Kit is not advisable here. Preparing a stubborn soil for the garden crop can take several months. So, you might not finish it this year. Don’t worry! Becoming a professional gardener takes time.
Understanding the soil in your garden
Well, you can get a rough idea of it just by looking. Take a cup of soil and perform the “touch” test. If too much sand is present in the soil; you can confirm it with the touch test. Did you know that the soil in your garden is not the same everywhere? Which means you should perform the soil test with a Soil Test Kit in all the places. Well, adding fertilizers is not the end of soil preparation.
We can categorize the characteristics of soil as chemical, physical, and biological. Let’s get to know about each soil property in detail here:
Too loose or too hard soil is not friendly for plants. Too hard soil holds too much water on the surface, which can cause plant death. Also, too hard soil prevents the breathing of plant roots. Too loose soil, on the other hand; won’t hold enough water for plants to survive. So, anything in between hard and loose is the right soil texture. Too much clay can be the reason for a very hard soil. Anyway, your Soil Test Kit won’t help you much in this case.
Helpful soil organisms and friendly bacteria in abundance make your soil a rich soil for plants to thrive. Earthworms raise the soil, and friendly bacteria break down organic matter in the soil. In other words, they change chemical and physical states of the soil.
This is where your Soil Test Kit comes in handy. Essential nutrient content is the key to thriving plants. These essential nutrients are the foods for plants. Can you live without food? What do you measure with the Soil Test Kit? Well, the acidity or the alkalinity of the soil determines available nutrients for the plants. Now, we must talk about the pH value. Power of hydrogen is written in short form as pH. Yes, you have learned it in school-days. If acidity or alkalinity of the soil drop or rise; it blocks available nutrients for plants to thrive. Well, available nutrient level in the soil is one of the factors that determine the soil pH, which you can easily find with a Soil Test it.
Adding fertilizers to the soil
Many types of fertilizers are available today for different plant types. So, choosing the right fertilizer type for your plants is advisable here. Too much or too low fertilizer can destroy your garden crop in no time. Well, first-time gardeners get this factor wrong most of the time. I mean, they think that adding too much fertilizer will give them a big harvest. Well, the opposite would happen if you add too much fertilizer. What would happen to you if you eat too much food every day? The same thing happens to your garden plants as well. Too much of anything is not good.
A quick tip: If you are a first-time gardener, and if you are not sure about the right fertilizer and the correct amount; hiring a professional is advisable. Out of all the essential nutrients, Nitrogen takes a top spot. You can raise nitrogen levels in the soil by adding organic material. Or; adding urea, sulfate of ammonia, and nitrate of soda raises nitrogen levels in the soil faster. Later, you can confirm the levels with your Soil Test Kit.
Testing the soil beneath the surface
This could be the hardest part of soil preparation, also; the point where many first-time gardeners get wrong. I mean, they only focus on the surface and just a few inches below the soil surface. Did you know that roots of the plants penetrate a few feet beneath the soil surface? How can you test under the soil hood for water drainage? Dig a few holes in various places of your garden (3-4 feet deep holes.) Fill the holes with water. This is a simple test to evaluate drainage of water in your garden. As mentioned, too much water isn’t good for the plants. If the water takes several hours/days to drain fully; drainage is faulty. It could be due to a clay layer. You will have to dig holes through the clay layer to fix the issue so.
Some final words
Every gardener should have a Soil Test Kit for a full evaluation. Any soil can be improved, but many challenges are there to overcome. You will have to prepare the soil each year for your new garden crop (this year’s garden crop consume all the nutrients.) First-time gardeners don’t look for water drainage, which is critical for a successful crop.
Using a Soil Test Kit is not rocket science. All the information and using tips will come in the leaflet provided. The pH meter is an alternative method to evaluate soil pH. Since it is a digital device, its readings are more accurate than non-digital methods. You can buy a general Soil Test Kit for $50 today (a super fine one.) Did you find this article helpful? Leave a comment then!