How To Improve Your Soil Health

Trying to garden with poor soil is a losing battle. Some plants may initially emerge from the surface, but their growth and health will ultimately be stunted. Soil is responsible for holding vital nutrients, organic matter and moisture that plants need to thrive. Without a healthy concentration of these elements, plants won’t be able to properly grow and develop.

Signs of Unhealthy Garden Soil:
•Feeds dry and arid to the touch.
•Top layer of soil visibly blows off during strong gusts of wind.
•Lack of plant life on or around the soil.
•Natural obstructions, such as rocks and/or trees, prevent water from flowing to the soil.
•Soil is either too acidic or too alkaline.
•Filled with rocks, pebbles or other debris.

Test Your Soil

Before we dive into the different ways to improve soil health, you should first test its pH. Pick up either an electronic or disposable pH tester from your local plat nursery and place it down inside your soil. This will reveal whether or not your soil contains a balanced acidic/alkaline content. If it’s not balanced, you may need to add some fertilizer or other ingredients to achieve a more desirable level.

So, what’s a good pH for garden soil? It really depends on the type of plants you are growing, but Clemson University recommends a pH of 5.8 to 6.5 for most vegetables, grasses and ornamentals. This seems to be a happy medium that works for most types of plants. Going below or above the 5.8-6.5 range, however, can create poor conditions that makes it difficult for plants to thrive.

Tips To Improve Soil Health
•Create a compost bin to recycle glass clippings, egg shells, fruit and vegetable peelings, etc.
•Set up a sprinkler system to supply with your soil with regular amounts of water (assuming you aren’t under a outdoor water ban).
•Use a pitch fork to till up your soil, allowing the moist content to reach the surface.
•Avoid crowding your soil with too many plants, as this will leach the nutrients from it.
•Try to avoid compacting the soil. The more “loose” your soil is, the more air and water can travel through it.
•Trim away excess brush or tree branches that are blocking sunlight from reaching your soil.
•Add compost tea to your soil for a nutritional boost.