5 Soil Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making

2022-06-25 03:02:37 By : Mr. Richard Ho

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The last point may surprise you...

Healthy soil means healthy plants, but do you know which gardening habits could be negatively affecting your soil? From excessive digging to adding fertiliser, some of our good intentions may not actually do much good.

To celebrate World Soil Day (Sunday 5th December), J. Parker's is encouraging green-fingered gardeners to get their soil in excellent condition. The cold winter temperatures may mean many of us neglect our gardens, but it pays to be attentive to the soil.

'We speak to so many people who want to get the most out of their soil and ensure they're giving their plants the best environment,' says Shannen Godwin, growing expert at J. Parker's.

'In actual fact, it can often be that people are doing too much to try and improve their soil. The secret, in many cases, is that doing less could be better for your soil and will reduce the hard work too!'

Take a look at the surprising mistakes you may be making...

Soil is one of the most wonderful things in nature, but we should be careful not to walk on it after rainfall. According to Shannen, when you walk on wet lawns or garden beds, you can end up compacting the soil underneath — making it harder for roots to grow and thrive.

'This can be especially true in areas of clay soil. So, try to wait a few days after rainfall for the soil to dry before standing on it,' adds Shannen.

While many gardeners use sand to loosen their soil, it can often worsen the soil as it turns to cement. Instead of reaching for sand, Shannen recommends adding organic matter such as grass cuttings and shredded leaves that break the soil particles up. You'll have healthy soil in no time.

Many vegetable gardeners swear by the benefits of manure as a fertiliser, however it can actually damage your soil and plants as it contains high levels of chemicals which can burn plant roots.

'Manure is indeed good for the roses, but choose composted or aged manure that is at least six months old,' says Shannen. 'This can help to increase nutrients and soil texture without running the risk of harming your plants.'

No-dig gardening is a simple method of cultivation that aims for minimal disturbance of the soil — and is one of the best approaches to keep soil looking healthy. If you want to keep your garden in ship shape, it's best to avoid digging or tiling the soil as this will disturb the established structure that has already formed.

Shannen suggests to opt for top dressing your plants with compost (as well as organic matter and aged manure) and try to minimise digging to less than six inches deep. Wonderfully, this will focus on topping up the soil with more nutrient-rich compost, rather than over-digging.

'The first response to poor soil is to add fertiliser,' says Shannen. 'However, adding fertiliser can be damaging unless you know what nutrients your soil needs. If you add fertiliser without knowing what condition your soil is in, then you risk upsetting the balance and adding too much of the same nutrient, and when this overload happens, plants can struggle.'

Fertilisers are used to improve plant growth, but it's important to conduct a soil test first. Shannen explains: 'This will give you a pH reading between 0-14. A score in the lower end means your soil is too acidic; in the higher number means your soil is too alkaline, then you can find the right fertiliser for the soil’s needs.'

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