Healthy soil full of the right nutrients is vital if you want to grow anything from flowers to vegetables in your garden. If you struggle to get your plants to flourish then it’s likely that there’s a problem with your soil. These tips will help you to improve your garden soil this spring and give you better crops all year round.
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Video – Initial ideas to Improve Garden Soil
Test your soil
The best way to work out how to improve garden soil is to figure out what’s missing from it. If you’re struggling to keep plants alive in your flower beds, or they don’t look very healthy and grow very slowly, then it could be that your soil needs more of a specific nutrient.
Use a soil test to find out if there’s a nutrient deficiency in your beds so that you can address it. Or it might even be that the test shows you’ve been feeding the soil too much fertilizer and there’s a build-up of nutrients. If that’s the case it can cause plants to wilt and die, make them more susceptible to diseases and pests, or cause too much leafy growth without producing the flowers or fruit that you’re after.
A test will also be able to indicate your soil pH and texture, which will help you to choose the right methods of looking after and improving it.
Boost your soil with fertilizer
If your soil isn’t lacking in one specific nutrient but could do with a bit of a boost then you should try adding some fertilizer. Opting for organic fertilizer is a good way of achieving healthy soil full of microbiological life and it’s safer for pets and wildlife that might be in your garden.
You can use it to boost your soil without adding in too many chemicals. It can help to improve the texture of heavy soil and increase water retention if you have sandy soil.
Spread the fertilizer over your soil by hand and then just water it in. You can reapply fertilizer every three months throughout the year to keep your soil healthy.
Dig through the soil
If your garden’s been a bit neglected then the soil might need digging through as well to get it in the best condition. Use a fork and use it to turn over all the soil in your garden thoroughly. This will help to loosen the soil where it’s been compacted and break down large lumps, which makes it easier for plants to root and grow.
It’ll also give you a chance to uproot any weeds that are growing and remove debris from the flower beds. Removing weeds in the spring is really important. You need to stop them from establishing early and prevent them from spreading as they’ll stop other plants from growing and take nutrients from the soil.
Work in fresh compost
Aim for a couple of inches on top, and then use a fork to dig it into the rest of the soil. You’ll want to dig down for about one foot with the new compost and make sure that it’s well mixed in. Then rake over the soil to remove any seedlings that are left as well as stones and other debris. Keep raking until you’ve got a fine, even layer across the top of the soil that’s perfect for sowing or adding plants.
Add extra nitrogen
Even when you’re taking good care to improve garden soil, nitrogen levels are often still too low for healthy plant growth. Do this early in the spring to improve garden soil. Most other nutrients in the soil will be retained for a long time, but before you start planting anything in your beds it’s a good idea to add some extra sources of nitrogen to your soil.
One simple way to boost nitrogen levels is to mix coffee grounds into the soil. It can take a while to break down but they’re a good source of nitrogen, plus it can help to improve drainage as well. You can also use grass clippings as mulch throughout the year for extra nitrogen — just spread them around the plants in your bed and they’ll decompose into the soil.
It’s important to get your soil healthy and properly prepared before you start sowing seeds and planting anything out. These tips will help you to improve your soil and take care of it so that your plants can thrive this summer.