A true gardener knows how important soil is and never takes it for granted. There’s much more to planting a garden than digging a hole, dropping a plant in and sprinkling on some water. Soil preparation is probably the most import part of the cultivation process, and while some gardeners many be lucky enough to have soil that is rich in nutrients, most will have to amend their dirt to ensure optimum growing conditions.
If you have a heavy clay soil in your garden, each year you will need to add a mixture of coarse sand and coarse organic matter such as compost or aged manure. Cover the area with a 1 inch layer of each and work it into the top 6 inches of earth.
If you have sandy soil you can add humus, aged manure or peat moss. Cover the area with a 3 -4 inch layer of your chosen amendment and work into the top soil.
If you have silt soil you will need to add 2-3 inches of mulch, rich compost or decayed sawdust. Dig this carefully into the top 6 inches of soil.
Soil additives and their benefits
Compost – made from decayed leaf and wood matter, paper and organic household waste, compost is one of the riches amendments you can add to your soil.
Lime – this will increase the pH of acid soil and will also help loosen clay particles, improving drainage.
Manure – the best manure is chicken manure as it is highest in nitrogen. Manure must always be aged.
Peat Moss- this amendment helps soil retain water.
Sand – coarse sand improves drainage, beach sand should not be used.
Top Soil – this can be used if the existing soil has been damaged or eroded.
Fertilizers generally contain three main nutrients Nitrogen (N) which is vital for growth of vegetation, phosphorus (P), which is essential for well-developed roots, and fruit growth, and potassium (K), which helps protect from disease.
All fertilizers a labeled to show the ratio of these components, for example, a 100lbs of 10-5-10 fertilizer contains 10lb N, 5lb P and 10lb K.