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

By: Gambo Navi

Grab a handful of soil from your garden. I bet that 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 success as a gardener will largely depend upon its condition, so take the initial bold step in gardening.... get to know your soil.

All soils are composed of 4 basic components, they are:
Water - Water is important for the support of both plant and soil life - it is also the carrier 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 important for the support of plant life and desirable for soil life - it is also vital for the breakdown of organic matter to release nutrients. Movement of air is important to avoid the build up of toxic gases. This movement takes place through the soil pores.

Mineral particles - The non-living skeleton of the soil is derived from the breakdown of rocks by weathering. The parent rock usually (but not at all times) 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 a minimum of 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 condition of the resulting blend that we all know as soil is described as its texture or structure, but these two terms do not mean the exact same thing.

Soil texture: refers to the proportions of the different sized mineral particles which are there. When course particles prevail, the soil is described as light. If the particles are minute, the soil is called heavy. The best soil lies between these two extremes. The course and minute particles should be evenly balanced to provide the medium-texture soil known as loam. Soil scientists have recognised seventeen or more kinds of mineral soil texture, but for the average gardener there is 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 attached all together, they may be grouped as clods, plates or crumbs. A crumb structure is ideal - it is what we call 'friable soil' with a 'good tilth'.

Your soil may 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 achieve the same effect on clay particles.

The improvement can 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., this means that you should, where possible, choose plants which the catalogues recommend for your particular soil type.

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An unbelievable period of my time is spent in my garden, but as I am getting older and things have become harder to do. I have decided to make use of a company called Gardener 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.

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