PHantastic Soil

It is a good idea to find out a bit about your garden before planting anything in it. What will grow in a plot of soil depends on what is in it, how compact the soil particles are and the pH level of the soil.

The required nutrients are reliant on what is to be grown. Most fertilizers include on their packaging what’s called an NPK ratio.

NPK are the chemical symbols given to Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potasium (K). These are three of the main nutrients for plant.

Nitrogen provides leaf and stem growth. It will help make your lawn greener. Phosphorus is essential for seed germination and the root development of young plants. It also benefits fruit and seed crops.

Potasium helps with flower and fruit production and disease resistance.

Other nutrients needed for a happy, healthy garden include calcium, boron, sulphur and magnesium.

Another consideration is the amount of sand to clay in your soil. Root crops need room to spread out so sandier soil is beneficial to them. Plants that need lots of water do better in clay-based soils.

If you take some wet soil and squeeze it in your hand you can determine if the soil is clay-based (the ball of soil sticks together) or sandy (the ball crumbles).

When added to soil, compost will aid drainage when the soil is too wet and help hold moisture in sandy soils. It is often fairly pH-balanced, but the nutrients it contains depends on what materials its made from.

Compost made from a variety of different materials will have a good mixture of nutrients.

Most vegetables like a close to neutral pH level, but berries like more acidic soil.

There are pH testers in most stores that sell gardening supplies. Or you can mix a bit of the soil with vinegar; if it fizzes it is acidic. Soil mixed with baking soda and water will fizz if it’s alkaline.

Organic Sources of Plant Nutrients

Nitrogen: composted poultry manure, blood meal.

Phosphorus: bone meal, rock phosphate.

Potasium: wood ash.

Calcium: egg shells, coffee grounds.

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