Soil provides plants the necessary nutrients to make them healthy and fruitful. That’s how important soil is, so if you have plans of planting, soil preparation must be your first task. Specifically, you must address issues on nutrient deficiency, acidity, composition, and texture, among other things. Although it sounds somewhat complicated, preparing soil is manageable. Here is a guide that can help you.
- Run a soil test. Soil testing is the preliminary step in preparing your soil. A test will help determine the soil type, its acidity level, and its nutrient composition and will therefore point you to the problems that need to be fixed. You can send soil sample to your local nurseryman or extension service. But if you prefer, you can also conduct your own soil test using a test kit. Make sure to follow the instruction sheet that comes with the package.
- Improve the soil texture. Having a good soil texture is important in growing plants. Ideally, your soil should have excellent drainage capability and must be moist but not excessively wet. This kind of soil, however, is not always present in most grounds, so you need to make some amendments if you happen to have sandy or clayish soil. Sandy soil doesn’t hold water and nutrients well, so it must be combined with clay. Clayish soil, on the other hand, holds excessive water, leaving the soil perennially moist. You need to add sand to improve this kind of soil. Make sure to till the ground to mix the existing soil components and the amendments together.
- Address the pH level. You need to change the pH level of your soil based on the results of the soil test and also on the plant that you intend to grow. Add lime if your soil has low acidity level. Add sulfur if it has high pH level. Make sure to refer to the manufacturer instructions when adding lime or sulfur to your soil. You need to make sure you are adding just the right amount. You can also check the recommendations of your local nurseryman, which usually come with the soil test results.
- Add nutrients if necessary. The soil test results will indicate if your soil has nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium deficiency. These three are the main soil nutrients and must be introduced to the soil if they are found to be in a dangerously low level. You can add fertilizer to address the nutrient deficiency, but make sure to take note of the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) percentage in the fertilizer label. Although commercial fertilizer has been proven effective, you can try to use organic fertilizer such as bone meal and kelp meal.
- Introduce compost. Your soil will benefit greatly from compost. A mixture of organic materials, compost will provide nutrients and help break down the soil. Although you can buy compost, it is much better if you make your own. After all, it is pretty simple to make. In a compost bin, combine soil with organic materials such as kitchen waste, plant trimmings, and dried leaves. When the organic ingredients have already turned into a fine, soil-like material, the compost can be added to your soil.
Your job doesn’t stop in soil preparation. When you have already planted your seeds or plants, you need to continuously take care of the soil to have the best crop yield or healthy plants.