For the novice gardener, its tempting to go out to your favorite home improvement store and purchase a plant minus thought. I used to do that before I understood the importance of having a well conditioned soil base. I want to save you some money, and heartache, by providing you with tips to improve soil in your landscape. In some parts of the globe, some folk are lucky enough to have that darkened, rich soil. Others, like myself, have to put in a little extra work because of all the sand here in Florida. Here, our growing season is very long, but the excess sand can sometimes cost us more than anticipated.
This first thing you want to understand is that not all plant species thrive in the same type of soil medium. Plants like, Zinnias, Cacti, and Marigolds do just fine a sandy soil. Of course, if you want to maximize your plant’s potential you should spoil your soil. I’ll start things off by one of the most overlooked aspects of improving soil…
Believe it or not, the roots of your plants need to be able to breathe. Yes, your roots need water and good soil temperature, but with compacted soil you can end up with a lot of problems. If you prefer container planting your soil can become waterlogged, thus causing rotting of the roots. If you like to place your plants right in the ground, your roots may not even get water at all! I stated that here in Florida the sand can be a nuisance. Very often after heavy rain falls, the water simply rolls right off the surface and into the city’s drainage system. A great way to improve soil and to prevent all of this is to aerate it. Container planting or not, you can accomplish this by using styrofoam. We like to reuse the packaging by crumbling the styrofoam into little pieces, mix it in the dirt, and you have aerated soil. Don’t over do it, because you want the soil to retain some water. An excess of styrofoam can actually cause water to run right past the roots. Those leaf piles provide a more eco-friendly way if you use it similar to the styrofoam. No crumbling, of course.
Have a Fruit Funeral
Or a veggie one! Another wonderful way to improve soil is by simply collecting your vegetative wastes. Don’t be so quick to discard those banana peels, apple cores, and grape stems; bury them! This gives surprising results because not only does it decrease your garbage production, but it aerates top soil too! Burying this type of waste is like composting on a small scale because eventually it breaks down. Even better is what helps them break down, earthworms and other microorganisms. My kids used to despise earthworms until I explained to them how helpful they can be to a garden. For starters, they keep the soil loose. If styrofoam isn’t an option for you then encourage these squirmy critters. Underground they constantly create tunnels and as a result, your roots will love it! No soil compaction, no anaerobic environment.
Keep Your Coffee
Millions of Americans have a cup every morning and then calmly toss it in the trash can. If you’re one of the masses I strongly urge you to reconsider. If you plan to improve soil your best bet would be to keep all your used grounds, filter and all. You can even take it a step further by taking the initiative to acquire some from Starbucks. Their giveaway program is very thoughtful of the environment and we’ve used them a few times. You can till your soil with coffee grounds(with filters), or you can layer as a form of mulch. While biodegradable, coffee improves soil by effectively holding in moisture. Don’t make the mistake of applying too much though, as an excess is asking for the growth of mold.
The art of composting can do wonders if you choose to improve soil in your yard. Its not very hard at all. A good compost can be tilled into or used as mulch. You can even use it exclusively as your medium! Now this technique will give you maximized results; your blooms will be brighter and so will your vegetables. Compost accomplishes all of the following stated above as long as you do it properly. It takes some time to accomplish to get finished compost but don’t hesitate to till some into your soil.
You now have some information to improve soil for your garden today. If you would try any of these methods, we guarantee that you’ll be impressed with your results. Later in the growing season we would love it for you to contact me with pictures of your results. Be sure to return, we want you to have the best garden!