Is your dirt ready?
1. When soil crumbles in your fingers and it's nearly time to plant, you'll want to prepare your soil.
2. Soil is more than dirt! Soil needs to be nutrient-rich, to enable your plants to absorb moisture and anchor roots. For example, sandy soil often sheds water and dries out too quickly.
3. Here are some soil fixes and amendments to improve your soil.
· If you have clay soil, add coarse sand (not beach sand), compost, and peat moss.
· If you have sandy soil, add humus or aged manure, peat moss, or sawdust with some extra nitrogen. Heavy, clay-rich soil can also be added to improve the soil.
Soil Amendments and Benefits
· Bark, ground: made from various tree barks. Improves soil structure.
· Compost: excellent conditioner.
· Leaf mold: decomposed leaves that add nutrients and structure to soil.
· Lime: raises the pH of acid soil and helps loosen clay soil.
· Manure: best if composted. Good conditioner.
· Peat moss: conditioner that helps soil retain water.
· Sand: improves drainage in clay soil.
· Topsoil: usually used with another amendment. Replaces existing soil.
Don't Forget Fertilizers
The next step is to add fertilizer. Nitrogen (N) is needed for leaf growth and is responsible for making plants greener. Phosphorus (P) is associated with root growth and fruit production. Potassium (K), also known as potash, helps the plant fight off diseases and keeps it vigorous.
Fertilizers are labeled to show the percentages by weight of the fertilizer. A 100-pound bag of 10-5-10 contains 10 pounds of nitrogen, 5 pounds of phosphorus, and 10 pounds of potassium. The rest is filler, which gives it bulk and makes it easier to spread.