Is your soil ready for Spring planting? by Mary Church
The birds are chirping in the morning busy building nests and my peach tree has beautiful pink blossoms. Where did the winter go?
Some of you may be starting your seedlings or starting to decide what to plant this Spring. However now is the time to ask yourself one of the most important questions….Is your soil ready to receive and nourish your young plants?
Dirt, the dirty stuff that gets under your nails, on the bottom of your shoes and all over your dog. However, soil is so much more than “dirt”.
Getting to know you soil….
The perfect garden soil should contain 50% solid matter and 50% pore space (the space that allows water to be absorbed). Moisture occupies about half the pore space and soil and air the other half. In our solid matter about 45% should be mineral the other 5% organic matter. Most of the good garden soils you buy will have this math done for you.
However, what about you gardeners who are not ordering new soil this year and want to test and add the proper nutrients to make your plants healthy. Here’s so helpful information to make sure your soil is ready for planting.
I highly recommend a pH soil test. You can find a soil testing kit at most garden centers or online on Amazon.
Some basic information on nutrients and soil….
Vegetables generally need 15 nutrients for maximum growth. Three elements – oxygen, carbon and hydrogen come from water and air. The other 12 exist in, you guessed it, your soil. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the major macronutrients needed by vegetables. So you can see how important maintaining and having the right nutrients in making sure you give your vegetables the best chance to be healthy and abundant.
Vegetables can be a little finicky, Each one has it’s own pH requirement. Obviously it’s not practical to create different pH soil areas gardeners tend to compromise by creating to a slightly acid to a neutral soil pH level 6.5-7.
If your soil is too alkaline, your plants may show yellow leaves, stunted growth, and leaf margins that appear burnt. Alkaline soils are sometimes too salty, and in extreme cases, heavy brown or white salt deposits are left on the soil surface. Acid soil is not easy to detect visually and will generally require some sort of pH test.
Soils turn acid when calcium and magnesium ions are leached out and replaced by hydrogen ions.
To counteract acidity, add ground or dolomitic lime at the rate of about 4 pounds per 100 square feet for each unit of pH below 6.5.
To correct alkaline soil, add sulfur at the rate of about 4 pounds per 100 square feet for each unit of pH above 7.
When you create the right soil conditions at the start and infuse the soil with nutritional supplements each growing season, you wind up with a soil that will continually grow sound, healthy vegetables with only a minimum of additional effort.
Here is a link to an article with an in depth approach to changing your soil’s pH.
Remember the soil pH change can take time to adjust, so get your soil test soon, so your garden will be ready for planting this spring.