All the earth’s food grows in soil that covers just 7.5% of the earth’s surface. This tiny percentage is getting smaller every day.
One of the biggest challenges with soil is knowing how to keep it healthy. Unhealthy soil doesn’t have what it needs to support the food that grows in it.
The good news is that there are things you can do to help improve soil health if it isn’t in good shape. This treatment of soil will often make or break your growing season.
If you’re looking for advice on how to keep your soil healthy, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover tips on how to keep your soil in peak condition in our guide below.
What Is Soil?
There are five parts to healthy soil: organic matter, minerals, living creatures, water, and gas. Soil uses these ingredients to perform many different functions to keep the ecosystem in operation.
Soil’s top job is to help plants grow. Soil also supports the atmosphere by helping to process gases like methane and carbon dioxide.
Another job that soil has is to help absorb and filter water. Soil is also the perfect habitat for many types of animals and organisms.
Although soil is renewable, it takes hundreds of years to form. Soil has many layers to it and can change as it ages.
Common Soil Issues
Soil takes some work to keep healthy and strong. There are common problems that can pop up and impact how your garden is growing. Thankfully, there are many easy solutions to help fix your soil problems.
Wrong pH Level
Soil that is too acidic or too alkaline will impact plant growth. If your soil is too acidic, you can add Epsom salts or lime to bring the acidity down. This will help prevent rot from happening to your plants.
Soil that is too alkaline needs fertilizer. Choose a fertilizer with iron sulfate to combat high pH levels.
Soil isn’t immune to pesticides or other pollutants. If you need soil disinfection, Potassium Permanganate can help. This chemical can keep pests away and improve your soil health.
Another common issue with soil is that it is too sandy. Soil that feels too sandy doesn’t have the right nutrients to support growing plants. People living near the coast can struggle with soil that is too sandy.
Although some plants can survive in sandy soil, many cannot. You will want to work on adding organic matter to your soil so that it can support a wider variety of plants.
You can also find soil that is full of heavy clay. If you have soil that has too much clay, plant roots will have a hard time growing. Too much clay can also cause your soil to drain incorrectly.
Keeping Soil Healthy
There are many things you can do to keep your soil healthy and ready to grow abundant crops. The following gardening tips are key to having the healthiest soil.
Test Your Soil
Soil needs certain nutrients to stay healthy. You can find out what nutrients your soil is missing by using a simple soil test.
A soil test will tell you what the pH of your soil is and what nutrients your soil is lacking. This information will give you a guide as to what you need to add to your soil to get optimal conditions.
Add Organic Matter
When soil is healthy, it is full of life. Healthy soil is full of microbes and small animals. These animals help to break down soil into nutrients.
To keep soil from drying out, add organic matter to it. You can find organic matter in manure, compost, and mulch. More organic matter can help hold water in and boost nutrients in your soil.
Rotate Your Crops
Soil nutrients change depending on the crop growing in the soil. Too many of the same crops can overload the soil with one type of nutrient. You can combat this by rotating the crops that you’re growing in your soil.
When you rotate crops, you can also help keep soil from eroding too fast. This is because different crops have roots of varying lengths. They hold the soil in layers, which keeps crops stable in stormy weather.
Rotating your crops also helps to keep plant disease from spreading. As a bonus, a diverse grouping of crops can help support pollinators.
Cover the Surface
After you plant your crops, keep your soil covered up. Covering your crops helps increase the amount of nutrients that are in the soil. For example, covered crops have more nitrogen than uncovered crops.
Covered crops also help keep soil erosion at bay. The soil is less likely to erode when heavy rains or wind come along. This healthier, more stable soil means more room for a more prominent summer harvest.
Another option to cover your soil is to plant a cover crop. These crops are quick to grow and give nutrients back to the soil.
Keep Tilling to a Minimum
Tilling is when you turn over the topsoil in your garden to break it up and add air to it. The point of tilling your garden is to keep your soil loose enough for roots to grow with no problems.
If you overdo it on tilling, you can damage your soil. Too much tilling can encourage weeds to grow in your garden. Weeds can compete with your garden and keep your plants from growing.
Manual tilling isn’t the only way you disturb your soil. If you have livestock or use a tractor on your land, you could break your soil up too much if you decide to also till it.
Treatment of Soil Is Key to Keeping Your Garden Thriving
Healthy soil is crucial to a garden that produces an abundance of plants. If you do have an issue, the treatment of soil can get your garden back on track.
One of the best things to do with the vegetables you grow in your garden is to cook with them. Check out our other food articles for inspiration today.
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