Tips For Keeping Your Soil Healthy

Whether you enjoy growing colourful flowers or delicious fruits and vegetables, keeping your soil healthy is a key component of successful gardening. Soil is an ecosystem teeming with microorganisms that break down plant and animal matter to create nutrients for your plants, and like any ecosystem, it must remain in balance in order to function well. Unhealthy soil will lead to poor seed germination rates and an increase in diseases that affect root development and plant health. Here are a few tips for keeping your soil healthy.

Carry Out Soil Testing

Unless you know the condition of your soil, you can't really know how to improve it or give it what it needs to stay healthy. Soil testing kits are inexpensive and provide valuable information including the nutrient content of your soil and its pH level. Based on the results of the soil analysis, you will be given guidance on how to maximise the health of your soil, which takes the guesswork out of it for you and can save you time and money.

Add Organic Matter

Plants need a wide variety of macronutrients and micronutrients to grow, such as nitrogen, potassium, zinc and copper. Planting year after year will reduce nutrients in your soil, and without giving some back, your soil will eventually be unable to support healthy plant growth. Organic matter, such as composted manure, garden compost or leaf mould, provides essential nutrients to your soil, but it needs to be added at regular intervals to combat nutrient depletion during the growing season and from soil erosion.

Cover Your Topsoil

The top few centimetres of your soil tend to contain the richest concentration of microorganisms and nutrients. Leaving your topsoil uncovered makes it vulnerable to soil erosion, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall. Adding a layer of mulch, such as woodchips, to your soil protects the nutrients in your topsoil and reduces weed growth. The soil ecosystem also benefits, as the cover layer moderates soil temperatures and moisture levels, which can help microorganisms to flourish.

Keeping your soil healthy doesn't take much time or effort but can make a big difference to the growth of your plants. If you're unsure of the best mulch or compost for your soil and the types of plants you're growing, speak to your local garden centre. They can make recommendations based on soil test results or based on the current problems you're experiencing with your plant or vegetable beds.