By Tammy Sons
Soil is the most basic element and rich soil can contribute towards a healthy and thriving garden. Fertile and nutrient rich soil means that you can grow a wide variety of plants, fruits and vegetables in your garden. However, the quality of soil varies in different regions and you might have to add fertilizers and other elements to replenish the required minerals and nutrients.
It is really crucial to understand the basic requirements of plants that you plan to grow and prepare the soil accordingly. Before working on the soil it is advisable to get the soil tested in a laboratory so that you know the problem areas and work on them. A soil test can determine the quality of soil and it can also point out if the soil is deficient in some nutrients. When you know these things you can work towards replenishing and making the soil better for plants to grow.
Adjust Soil pH level—Most of the plants require neutral levels however; some of them have specific requirements and might grow better in slightly acidic or alkaline soil. The soil pH cannot be altered permanently but you can add certain chemicals to cope up with the problem on a temporary basis. The soil pH can be tested either in a laboratory or with the help of a soil testing kit which is easily available in the market.
Feeding the Soil—To replenish lost nutrients it is important to feed the soil by mixing fertilizers that are rich in nutrients. You can add organic fertilizers or even inorganic fertilizers that are readily available. These fertilizers will ensure that the soil get its share of essential nutrients that contribute towards healthy growth of plants.
Composting—Mixing compost or manure with soil helps in making it richer and better for plant’s growth. It is advisable to bury the debris of your garden like spent flowers, leaves, weeds twigs and wood chips, etc. so that they turn into compost. You can use this compost to improve the quality of soil in coming seasons.
Cover Crops—Growing cover crops is another alternative method which help the soil in replenishing lost nutrients. You can grow certain plants and crops in your yard that have the capability of adding nutrients to the soil. Leguminous plants can add nitrogen to the soil through their roots. Alfalfa, Soybeans, Rapeseed, Sudan grass, Crimson Clover and Hairy Vetch are plants that can add minerals to the soil. Home gardeners generally use Hairy Vetch in the gardens to enhance the soil quality.