At least once a year, all of us hopefully visit the doctor for a checkup. The doctor checks our vital signs and makes sure that we’re in good health. If someone said that they hadn’t been for a checkup in years, you’d probably think they were crazy.
In the same way, it’s just as important to give your garden an annual checkup. More specifically, you should give your soil a checkup each year to make sure it’s healthy enough to grow the best plants possible. There’s no better time to give your garden a checkup than spring, the start of the serious gardening and planting season.
This post will explain:
- What is healthy soil
- Why it matters
- How you can improve the health of your garden’s soil
What is healthy soil?
Just as many things go into having a healthy body, so do many things go into having healthy soil.
In general, healthy soil is:
- Slightly acidic. Depending on what you’re trying to grow, different levels of acidity may be required, but generally fruits and vegetables prefer slightly acidic soil. A good soil test will help you determine the acidity of your soil.
- Full of organic matter. Healthy soil contains lots of diverse decaying organic matter to give your plants all the nutrients they need.
- Full of good bacteria. We’ve written before about how good bacteria are essential to your health, and so it’s no surprise that they’re just as important to the health of your garden. Among other things, good bacteria break down organic matter so that your plants can more easily absorb it.
- The right structure. Healthy soil is neither too loose (sandy) nor too dense (lots of clay). If the soil is to loose, water will flow away before plants can absorb it. If it’s too dense, the plants will get too much water and rot or suffocate
If this all sounds complicated, don’t worry. Most of this is easy enough to diagnose and fix, and of course the Nursery staff will be happy to help you.
Before we cover how to improve soil health, however, let’s dig a bit deeper (pun definitely intended) into the importance of healthy soil.
Why is healthy soil important for your garden?
Imagine if you only ate junk food. Sure, it would be fun for a while, but eventually your health would start to suffer. In the same way, your plants need a healthy diet to prosper. A healthy soil is one that contains the correct nutrients, holds the right amount of water, and overall helps your plants thrive.
Indeed, healthy soil is so important for a good harvest that it should be one of the first things you check if everything seems to be going wrong in your garden. Along with active threats such as pests and weeds, unhealthy soil can be one of the biggest causes of problems in your garden.
Especially if you are growing vegetables or other edible plants, healthy soil can mean the difference between a bountiful harvest and a pitiful crop. Because healthy soil is a nutrient rich soil, it also equates to healthier, more nutrient dense plants for you to consume.
Finally, healthy soil also means healthier gardening, since there is less need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides. Healthy soil can really be a gardening game changer.
“Great!” you say. “I’m convinced. But how the heck to I improve my soil’s health?”
Luckily for you, we have a few easy steps you can try.
How to Improve Your Garden’s Soil Health
- Test your soil. Just as a doctor wouldn’t recommend a treatment before performing an examination, so should you test your soil before deciding how to improve its health. You can easily test the pH (acidity vs alkalinity) with a home test kit. For a more complete analysis, you can have your soil professionally tested for a small fee. Just Google “soil testing kauai.”
- Mulch annually. A good annual mulching helps control weeds. In the words of Nursery manager Serina, “An annual landscape mulching can work wonders to maintain your landscape and something we highly recommend to invigorate mature (older) landscapes.” If you’d like some help, we offer a mulching service here at the Nursery. To get started, contact us or just stop by during business hours.
- Don’t step on your soil when it’s wet. This can compact your soil and keep your plants from getting the air and water they need. Wait till things have dried off to do any work in your garden.
- Add compost, compost tea, or organic fertilizers to your soil. Again, make sure to test your soil before doing this, as you don’t want to add the wrong material. In general, though, you can never have too much compost and organic matter. You can pick up all three at the nursery, as well as get advice on which is best for your garden.
Attend our Soil Health/Remediation Workshop!
If you want someone to walk you through the whole process and give you all the instruction you need to improve your soil’s health, you should attend this workshop. It’s part of our Earth Day Bonanza from April 22-23, 2016.
Soil health really can mean the difference between a garden that depresses you and a garden you can be proud of.
We hope this post has gotten you interested in your own garden’s soil health. If you have anymore questions, don’t hesitate to contact us or stop by to talk with one of our knowledgeable staff.