Gardening Tips. You Need To Check The Condition Of Your Soil

By: Susan Sportman

Pick up a handful of soil in your garden. I bet you are thinking, "this is ordinary, unexciting earth". Yet it is an example of nature's miracles, and one of her most complex products. Your accomplishment as a gardener will largely depend on its condition, so take the initial bold step in gardening.... get to know your soil.

All soils are composed of 4 basic components, these are:
Water - Water is important for the support of both plant and soil life - it is also the provider of nutrients. Water is absorbed into humus and absorbed on to the surface of particles. Water adheres tightly to clay, restricting both drainage and uptake by the roots.

Air - Air is crucial for the support of plant life and desired for soil life - it is also vital for the breakdown of organic matter to release nutrients. Movement of air is necessary for avoiding the build up of toxic gases. This movement takes place throughout the soil pores.

Mineral particles - The non-living skeleton of the soil comes from the decomposition of rocks by weathering. The parent rock usually (but not always) lies under the soil and both the fertility and size of the particles are governed by the sort of parent rock.

Organic matter - Fertile soils contain at least 5 per cent organic matter. This is found present as a mixture of living, dead and decomposed organisms, both animal and vegetable. True humus is a dark jelly-like substance which binds mineral particles into crumbs.

The physical quality of the resulting blend that we know as soil is described as its texture or structure, but these two terms donot mean the same thing.

Soil texture: refers to the proportions of the different sized mineral particles that are present. When course particles prevail, the soil is described as light. If the particles are minute, the soil is known as heavy. The best soil lies between these two extremes. The course and minute particles need to be evenly balanced to provide the medium-texture soil referred to as loam. Soil scientists have recognised seventeen or more types of mineral soil texture, but for the average gardener there are just 8 basic types, these can be put in to 3 groups. Light soil, medium soil and heavy soil.

Soil structure; refers to the way the mineral particles are joined collectively, they may be grouped as clods, plates or crumbs. A crumb structure is good - it is what we call 'friable soil' with a 'good tilth'.

Your soil might be nothing like a crumbly loam. It may be a back-breaking clay or it may be sandy stuff which always needs feeding and watering. Do not despair, it is quite simple to change the structure of any soil. Organic matter will cement sand grains into crumbs. Digging, liming and organic matter have the same effect on clay particles.

The improvement may be spectacular, but you can not change the fundamental texture unless you add vast quantities of the deficient mineral particle. So your soil will remain basically clayey, sandy etc., which means you should, where possible, choose plants that the catalogues recommend for a particular soil type.

Article Directory:

| More

An incredible quantity of my time is spent in my garden, but as I am getting older and things are getting harder to do. I have decided to use a company called Landscaper London.. So far they have given me all the help and advice that I have asked for. I still do a bit of pottering around my own garden.

Please Rate this Article


Not yet Rated

Click the XML Icon Above to Receive Other A&E Articles Articles Via RSS!

Powered by Article Dashboard