Amending the Ground For Garden
No matter how great you think your dirt is, it can always use a little help to make it better. There are two primary factors used to evaluate dirt: fertility and texture. The fertility of your dirt is determined by its pH balance and nutrients. The texture is how large the particles of dirt are and how well they hold together.
A Look at Nutrients
There are three nutrients all plants need to be healthy. These are phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. Phosphorus helps the roots grow, which is particularly important for flowering bulbs and for root veggies such as carrots. Bone meal is a natural additive that can be found at your gardening store that will help boost the levels of phosphorus in your dirt. Some fertilizers also contain high levels of phosphorus. Generally, these fertilizers are advertised as bloom boosters because phosphorus is necessary for plants to produce their flowers.
Nitrogen is necessary to ensure healthy leaves and stems. When you add nitrogen to the dirt, it does not stay there for long because it gets used up by plants and decaying matter. Nitrogen is also water soluble, which means it can wash out of your dirt rather quickly.
Therefore, nitrogen needs to be replenished in your dirt in order to produce the best growth. At the same time, too much nitrogen will cause the foliage to go wild and take away from the fruit and flowers of the plant. So, it is important to maintain the proper balance.
Potassium is good for the overall health of your plants. It helps the plants grow while also helping to boost their immune system.
Potassium is also water soluble, so it needs to be replenished as well.
There are several additional trace elements that are also beneficial to your dirt. These include magnesium, calcium, molybdenum, and zinc.
Adding Nutrients to Your Dirt
If your dirt is lacking nutrients, you will need to decide between adding organic or inorganic materials in order to amend it. Inorganic fertilizers work quickly and are generally cheaper than organic fertilizers, but they do not actually improve your soil. Rather, they are designed to feed the plant itself. Therefore, they are not a good choice when preparing a garden bed that does not have plants yet.
In addition, fertilizers can actually cause damage to your soil in the long run because of their high salt content. Some studies have also indicated that plants build a resistance to inorganic fertilizers, which causes them to require more and more in order to remain healthy.
Organic fertilizers take more time to work, but are beneficial because they treat the actual dirt and they release nutrients over time. The best organic fertilizer should include phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. You can also add your own organic nutrients, such as bone meal for phosphorus, fish emulsion and manure for nitrogen, and wood ash for potassium.
By purchasing a testing kit from your home improvement or garden center, you will be able to determine which nutrients your dirt needs.