Soil problems can impede the growth of any plants you want to plant in your garden. So make sure that you address any soil problems if you want healthy and thriving plants. Soil problems are often caused by pH problems, nutrient deficiencies, or excess salinity. Soil test kits are very useful for this purpose and can help you understand what soil problems you may have.
Good quality soil is either slightly alkaline or acidic. Acidic soil is anything measuring less than pH 7, and alkaline soil is anything above pH 7. If your soil is too alkaline, try adding peat, chelated minerals, or acidic fertilizers. If the soil is too acidic, adding lime can help. Soil pH is easily measured with a good soil test kit, so make sure you have one handy on hand.
Here is an easy way to figure out what kind of soil you have. While no substitute for a reliable soil test kit that can test for pH, it can give you a brief idea on your soil type. First, fill a quart jar with 1 quart water and 1 teaspoon of water softener. Add soil to the jar until the water level rises up to the lip of the jar. Screw on the cap on the quart jar and shake the jar as vigorously as you can. Now watch the soil particles settle, starting first with the largest particles, to the smallest. The soil will settle into layers. Equal bands of sand, silt, and clay mean that the soil is loamy. A thick layer of sand indicates sandy soil, and a thick layer of clay indicates clayey soil. Loamy soil is considered the ideal soil type.
Besides high clay content in the soil, hardpan is also a cause for poor drainage. While hardpans can be natural, man made hardpans caused by construction or renovation activities are a more common occurrence, especially in small gardens in new housing estates. Depending on how deep the hardpan is and how practical it is to carry out, plowing, drilling, or laying a new raised bed can all be carried out.
Soil salinity can be a problem in certain areas. Salinity in soil can reduce plant growth, stunt seed germination, and result in a condition called salt burn – yellowed leaves that look like they have been burned. Excess salinity can be tackled by draining the soil well, but you’d need to make sure your soil is capable of this.
Nutrient deficiencies are a common soil problem too. Oftentimes, it is the case of a lack of the basic soil nutrients – the NPK nutrients.
Basically, most types of plants will grow even in less than optimal soil conditions, but when you find your plants not growing as well as they should despite having adequate rainfall and sunlight, and agreeable climatic conditions, the problem is most often the result of some soil problem. Fix your soil problems – and watch your plants thrive.
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