How to get the best from your soil
As we move towards the sowing and growing season, we thought a few tips on soil wouldn’t go amiss! Soil is the foundation of all you’re doing in the garden and worth getting it right if you want to succeed! Luckily, Alison treated us to a tweetorial on soil for last night’s #WoolliesAskAlison. Here’s your round up!
- Soil: primarily depends on underlying rock for pH and drainage; you cannot change what lies beneath but can improve soil.
- pH: measures acidity-alkalinity. Most plants need soil in the range 6 (acid) to 8 (alkaline); 7 is neutral.
- Ericaceous plants: Azalea, Acer struggle on pH >7 because calcium making the soil alkaline restricts the availability of iron. Yellow leaf.
- Well Rotted Organic Matter improves dry sandy soil by adding nutrients and increasing water holding capacity, it also improves wet clay and silt soils by opening structure and increasing drainage. Magic stuff!
- Sandy soils: slightly acid because free draining and calcium leaches out over time. Easy dig but also lose other nutrients
- Chalky soil: often shallow (15cm) topsoil as soil erodes from top of hills into valleys. Bulk up with organic matter, try raised beds.
- Light soils: Mulch or cover sand/chalk soil in winter to reduce nutrient leaching and dig in spring.
- Clay: retains water and nutrients so great for hungry feeders like roses but needs lots organic matter and work to sow small seeds
- Sustainability: try to compost all garden waste and return it to plot to replenish nutrients. Hungry soil is pale and thin.
You can read more about soil – and learn a little trick on testing it at home – here
What are you growing this year? Let us know in the comment below – or on twitter @WoollyGreen