How Does Your Garden Grow?

May 10, 2013

We all know the nursery rhyme about silvery bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row.  But what really separates a good garden from a plot of brown sticks in the ground?  The answer is all in the dirt.

Your garden plants rely on the soil to provide all of the water and nutrients required for healthy growth.  So, to feed your plants well you must first understand what type of soil you have and, most importantly, what it lacks.  Dirt is generally classified under one of three headings – clay, sandy, or loam.  Loam is how near-perfect soil is described that has a lot of organic matter, is sandy enough to be easy to dig but has enough clay to provide stability for the plan root structures.  If you have sandy soil, adding clay will help retain water and nutrients.  Clay needs to be loosened up to allow drainage and root growth.

OK, so now that you have the texture of your dirt just right what else do you need?  Organic matter – manure, old leaves, grass clippings, composted material, and fertilizer can all help to turn your soil into the rich, dark stuff of gardening dreams.  A word of caution, it is possible to over fertilize a garden so it can be a good idea to take a soil sample in to be pH tested first.  These need to be turned or tilled in well and can be added at any time to help improve your soil conditions. 

And speaking of tilling your soil, a common question is how deep does the soil need to be tilled.  The simple answer is the deeper, the better.  Dirt that’s been turned an inch or two will look like it’s well tilled but won’t perform nearly as well as soil that’s been turned 4-6 inches.

So get out there and get your soil ready and we’ll talk soon about how to lay out your garden for the best results.