Gardening is great for both your body and your mind, but it could be such an expensive hobby. Gardening tools and equipment are not exactly cheap, but there are some ways you could save up.
You could save a lot if you learned how to make your garden soil on your own. Worry no more because you will not need to keep buying everything from the store, you can start with the things that you already have.
Now, if you are ready, let us begin!
- Protective Clothing and Gloves (It is not safe to handle soil with your bare hands. It is both unhygienic and dangerous to your health)
- Soil (Look at the ones you already have near you. The different types will be explained below)
- Organic Materials (Compost, Dried shredded Leaves, Grass Clipping, Old Manure, etc.)
- Shovel /Spade
- Containers (Could be a wheelbarrow, bucket or smaller containers. It depends on the amount of garden soil you want to make.)
Before anything else, you need to know what type of soils are available in your place.
Four Main Types of Soil
1. Clay Soil
They are rich in nutrients, but they do not have organic materials. The clay soil contains fine particles and colloidal substances. They tend to stick together and form large clumps when it becomes wet. They are tightly-packed, which makes it hard to bring vital oxygen to plant roots (This process is also known as aeration)
They contain more nutrients than the other soil types, but they are not the most favored for gardening because their texture makes it difficult for plant roots to penetrate it.
2. Sandy Soil
This contains a high percentage of sand, which are large solid particles. Water drains out too quickly in Sandy Soil, and fewer nutrients get retained.
3. Silty Soil
This Soil contains high percentages of silt. Silts are medium-size particles between clay and sand (they are not grainy nor rocky). They are more fertile compared to the other two types.
4. Loam Soil
This is the ideal Garden Soil amongst the four. It is crumbly and full of organic material. Its characteristics allow for aeration, and they retain moisture and yet still drains well.
Loam soil is good garden soil. It is the one you need. We will now be working on how to make your own.
How to Make Your Loam Soil
Loam soil contains most of the other three soil given. The key is balancing them and blending them nicely.
You can use these percentages/ ratios:
10% to 25% Clay
50 % or less of Sand
30% to 50% Silt
These are not the exact ratio, but you can use it for starters.
(Tip: You could try to strain your soils to get rid of large rocks.)
You can estimate the content of your garden soil by feel. Remember that it needs to be crumbly. A good Loam soil shapes into a softball with ease, and it crumbles if you press it with your finger.
It might seem easy to mix and balance the components by following the percentage, but you could still end up with not so good garden soil. Here are some of the things you need to look out for:
Things to Take Note of:
Good soil has good texture. One way to tell is that they are crumbly It should be able to be broken easily into fragments, like bread crumbs.
2. Organic Matters
The soil’s microorganisms decompose animals, leaves, and other animal tissue to make the garden soil’s Organic components called Humus. Humus affects the bulk density of the soil. It helps with moisture and nutrient retention and increases soil’s aeration.
Like most living things, soil to support life must have a healthy pH. Soil pH measures the soil’s acidity. The pH affects the retention of the minerals in the soil and the ability of plants to absorb it. Most plants prefer neutral pH, but some prefer acidic soil.
Tips to Improve Your Garden Soil
TIP 1: Keep Adding Organic matters
It is the best way to improve your garden soil. Organic matter could fix your garden soil even if it is low in nutrients, and also if it is clayey, sandy, or has poor drainage.
These are the organic matters you can add:
You must add compost because they can significantly improve your garden soil by introducing microorganisms that will break down organic matter. You can add as much as you can, it is almost impossible to have too much compost.
- More organic matter
Like shredded dried leaves, grass clippings, and aged manure. These will help improve water retention, soil texture, and fertility.
TIP 2: Check Soil’s pH
Having the right soil pH is also essential. Plants receive more nutrients when their soil is at the correct pH. Most plants prefer neutral pH, but some grow more in acidic soil.
You can have your soil tested, or you can search for ways to do it on your own. Once you get the result, you can then adjust the pH according to what suits your plant best.
TIP 3: Do NOT Compact Your Soil
The reason why most gardeners prefer raised beds for their garden is that it prevents soil compaction caused by people stepping in garden beds,
Avoid stepping in your soil as much as possible. Compacted soil makes it difficult for plant roots to grow. (If you are using a container for a small garden, prevent pressing the soil as much as you can.)
TIP 4: Do NOT Disturb your soil
Fussing over your soil too much could sometimes do more harm than good. Do not bother your soil too much. (Especially when you have it settled, and you have already planted your plant/s.)
Remember that your soil has its ecosystem. The ecosystem makes your soil as healthy and nutrient-rich as possible. If you keep disturbing your soil, the ecosystem gets disturbed as well.
If you want to add more organic matter, you could place them to the top inch or two of your soil.
Your garden will be healthy if you take care of your soil and plants. These take commitment and dedication. But once you finish all these, you will see that your efforts are worth it.
Gardening can be stressful at the beginning, especially when you are just starting and have no clue what you are doing, but once you get the hang of it, it could become your new way of relaxing.
Gardening is rewarding in the long run, so if you have not started yet, go and get your gear, start digging, and mixing. Unlock that gardener side of you.
Once you get done, pat yourself in the back, sit back, and watch your garden grow from Nay to Yay!