A not so perfect garden soil can still be improved; the solution to sticky clay soil or gritty sandy soil is the addition of substantial amount of organic matter. While it is true that you cannot change the kind of soil in your garden into loam soil, adding organic matter can improve your soil in several ways.
Organic matter can loosen the sticky clay soil to make the air flow. As for sandy soil, the addition of organic matter will enable the loose soil to improve its capacity to retain and hold nutrients and water. Organic matter will be an attraction to micro-organisms such as fungi, critters and worms and the end result is improving the health of the plants. The organic matter is non-chemical fertilizers such as animal or green manure and compost. You can add these to the soil while still in decomposition stage, possibly a month before planting. The matter will break down and would be ready at planting time.
Basic steps to add organic matter to the garden soil
The process of adding organic matter to the garden soil is very simple. The organic matter layered on the surface of the soil should be 1 to 2 inches thick. If your soil is new or is to be used for the first time, go for the 2 inch-layering. You should also use this amount if the soil is clay or sandy. If it is loam, you can settle for lesser organic topping. If you have been planting on the soil for quite some time, there are nutrients in the soil so an inch topping will also suffice. You do some gardening tools to layer and spread the organic matter. You need to use wheelbarrow, shovel or iron fork.
Adding compost to the soil
The best kind of organic material to improve the quality of the garden soil is compost. This is actually humus made by breaking down yard and agricultural waste and scraps of wood or timber into soil-like particles. If you cannot do the composting, you will find this organic matter from waste disposal sites. You can buy by bags or by truckloads. When buying compost from disposal sites, you have to ensure that no heavy metals like lead are made part of the compost. This may not be safe for your vegetable’s soil. Today, many commercial producers of compost can even tell you the nutrient content of the compost they are selling. This is because they know the components of this organic fertilizer.
Adding sawdust and manure soil
Other types of organic materials are sawdust and manure. The latter can come from animal or plants. Compost is better recommended as organic additions to garden soil because there may be some problems in sawdust and manure.
• Sawdust may add organic materials to the soil when they breakdown to form humus. However, the sawdust may take some of the nitrogen during the decomposition stage. As a result, you will need to add more to compensate for what had been taken off.
• Animal or livestock manure also adds nitrogen to the garden soil. However, since the diet of livestock include hay, the seeds of hay may be integrated which later germinates into the vegetable plot. Horse manure for instance has dried hay bedding materials that produce similar disadvantage of sawdust.
• Green manure is from leaves and branches of trees and plants. They can be sowed into the garden soil and once they breakdown, they release nutrients into the garden’s earth. However, before you sow them into the soil, you have to wait until the garden beds had been emptied for 5 to 6 weeks.
When you use manure, you have to use the kind that had been sitting around for 1 or 2 years to ensure that they have totally decomposed and that their salt content had already leached out. Salt is harmful to your plant; this is the reason why you have to wait long before you use the mature. Using either compost or manure, you can determine if it is good quality. If it is color brown with earthy smell, it may be a good one. Look at the particles, the original material from which it is made from is no longer visible. No traces of wastes, manure and sawdust are found in the resulting organic materials. It shows more resemblance to a good kind of garden soil.