Improving Your Garden Soil
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 12, 2021)
It can be really annoying to try and get your garden going the way you want it to, only to have it fail time and time again. One of the most overlooked reasons for a garden to fail to perform properly is that there is something wrong with the soil. Improving your garden soil isn't all that difficult, and generally speaking doesn't really require that you do a whole lot. That being said, there are a few times when you may need to do a lot to get the job done. Here are a few guidelines that you can use to ensure you get the most out of your garden soil.
- Know your area. In order to start improving your garden soil you need to know what you are working with. This basically means that you need to know what the soil in your area is supposed to be like. This general information can be found at most libraries, county extension offices, and local nurseries. By having this information in hand you will be able to start planning what to do next/
- Have your soil tested. Once you have a general idea of what your soil is supposed to be like (for your area) it is time to learn the specifics. This can easily be ascertained by taking a sample of the soil where you will be having the garden to your local county extension office for testing. This test can tell you things like what the pH balance of your soil is, how much clay it contains, what the nutrient levels are in it, and give you a good idea of how well it retains water as well.
- Know your plants. While you are waiting for your soil test results, it is a good idea to start looking up the particular plants that you want to plant in your garden. Not all plants do well in all areas, and this will give you the opportunity to learn whether or not you can even attempt to grow the plants you want in your particular area. Additionally, if you can grow the plants you want in your particular growing zone and area, then this will give you important information about what type of soil (sandy, clay, etc.) is required for the plants as well as the nutrient, pH levels, and so on.
- Make the necessary changes. After you have received the soil test, compare the results to your research on the plants in question. Where the two don't match up, that is where you will you will need to make your adjustments. For example, if you have a particularly sandy soil you may want to add some vermiculite, and good quality top soil to help improve the water retention and nutrient levels. Many times the test results that you get from your county extension office can give you some additional pointers on countering any negatives.