Many people who have just started gardening tend to take soil for granted, treating it like it is mere dirt where in reality it is definitely more than that. Soil is considered as a living ecosystem for a large community of both organisms and microorganisms that contribute to the plant’s living condition.
In addition to that, soil is also the stronghold for your plant’s roots. In the case that the soil is not well maintained, chances are, it will lead your soil to drought. Meaning, there is little to almost no chance for your roots to survive when its soil’s health is at a drastically low level.
For you to avoid this mistake, we have made this detailed guide that focuses on the importance of soil maintenance, and the 7 ways to keep your soil healthy.
Let’s take a look!
Why Is Soil Important?
For starters, soil is one of the many elements that are a part of our life support system. For plants, this is where their roots take shelter in which it helps give plants the necessary nutrients and minerals. Moreover, as nutrients make a continuous cycle in the roots, they are also capable of storing specific amounts of water.
Depending on what type of soil you are using, amounts of water storage will vary. As mentioned, soil is also home to many microorganisms, and these microorganisms are capable of fixing nitrogen and decomposing organic matter. The same goes for microscopic animals, including earthworms, isopods, etc.
A healthy soil ensures enhanced drainage, aeration, and better distribution of nutrients.
What Is The Soil Drainage Process?
It is a necessity for plants to meet their essential needs in order to thrive, when it comes to their water requirements, soil will naturally make water scatter more efficiently in and out of the soil as a result of the force of gravity.
The process of the water seeping into the soil is called infiltration, after the water has drained the soil will then be at field capacity.
7 Different Ways To Keep Soil Healthy
Healthy soil is the foundation for a healthy plant, which is why prioritizing your soil’s condition should be your first objective, and there are several ways on how to keep your soil in pristine condition.
Below are 7 ways on how to keep your soil healthy, and these methods are widely used in the gardening hobby.
1) Purchase High-Quality Soil
High-quality soil generally provides more security compared to ordinary soil from yards. They contain a lot of organic matter and nutrients with excellent water retention. Organic soil also has less erosion due to its components that allows it to withstand strong winds and high amounts of water.
Soil allows plants to grow by regulating biological, chemical, and physical processes that supports plants with the necessary nutrients, and other essential elements.
2) Create Your Own Potting Mix
If you want to save money in exchange for a small amount of your time, you have the option to create your own potting mix. It is fairly cheap, and you get to decide on what ingredients you will use in your potting mix.
However, you do need to learn what the correct ingredients are, in order for your potting soil mix to work.
3) Correctly Provide For Your Plants
You need to be consistent on giving your plants the right amount of water, air, and sunlight at the right time. This gives the soil the opportunity to rejuvenate every time you attend to their needs. This also prevents your soil from getting dry, which might harden and will make it difficult for the roots to scatter.
4) Use Moisture Meters
Moisture meters are great for accurately showing the moisture level condition your soil is in. This is much better compared to just sticking your finger in the soil and guessing if the moisture is still enough or not.
Guessing can only do more harm than good. Moisture meter gardens are also relatively cheap, which means that you can easily purchase one from the closest garden center near you.
5) Add Organic Matter
You have probably guessed by now that organic matter brings out a lot of benefits for your plants, and they sustain very well in the long-term run. They improve the soil’s physical properties including air and water availability, which promotes healthy root development.
Organic matter can be composed of both living plant parts, decomposing plant parts, or even animal feces. These naturally help the soil to receive extra nutrients and help with increasing moisture levels as well.
This is because as this organic matter breaks down, it will decompose and become a source of nutrients to the soil and the plant. Basically, plants can be a provider of food to their microorganisms.
6) Avoid Chemicals
Pesticides are harmful to humans, animals, and to our SOIL! Pesticides damage the plant’s roots by weakening its immune system, which reduces the root’s concentration of nutrients in the soil, this includes nitrogen and phosphorous. Furthermore, chemical fertilizers can make your soil acidic.
This is because nitrogen lowers the pH level of your soil when it is being applied with chemical fertilizers. When the soil is too acidic, this will result in fewer yield crops. When it comes to environmental issues, chemical fertilizers have a drastic effect on the environment due to their high and harmful mild to toxic elements.
7) Test Your Soil
Testing your soil will give you important information that allows you to know its soil texture, pH level, components, and physical properties. This gives you an idea on what your soil is lacking or requiring.
This will also help you on your road to having an optimum soil ecosystem. In addition, this protects the environment from contamination by draining excess fertilizers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Soil Health
Here is what beginner gardeners commonly ask about how to keep soil healthy. This section aims to help you by addressing common questions and concerns that beginners usually ask when it comes to soil health. Take a look!
Q: What Is Soil Made Of?
A: Soil is actually part of the earth’s surface, and it covers a thin layer of it. It is formed from weathering formations from rocks. It is composed of minerals, organic materials, oxygen, hydrogen, and living organisms.
Q: What Soil Should I Use?
A: The answer to this question depends on your environment, container, and climate. In most cases, potting soil is commonly used because of its enhanced aeration and drainage. They are also sterile, lightweight, and made up of organic materials including mineral particles including peat, and sand.
Q: Why Should We Protect Our Soil?
A: As mentioned, soil is the fundamental element for keeping your plants in pristine condition. Conserving soil is proven to improve the quality and quantity of crop yields in the long run, this is because this keeps the soil in place with the ability to sustain itself for long-term productivity.
Final Thoughts On How To Improve Your Soil
I personally use a few of these methods and find them very effective, and depending on your environment, soil, and plants, some methods might not work. So, you can go ahead and review the details once more to make sure which methods are suitable for your soil.
If you have any questions on how to keep your soil healthy, please do not hesitate to ask below!