Choosing The Best Garden Soil
Few of us have ideal garden soil however there are easy ways to improve what you do have. Adding in soil amendments and soil fertilizers will improve the structure and texture of your soil and provide usable nutrients for your garden plants. The optimum garden soil depends largely on what you plan to grow. The pH, which is the measure of acidity or alkalinity, of the soil affects how well nutrients are absorbed by the plant roots. Most plants do best with a pH of 7, or a neutral pH. Most soils are between 5 (acidic) and 8 (alkaline) pH. The predominant texture and the pH will tell you what you should add to your soil. It is not always necessary to amend your soil, but adding organic material, like grass clippings, decayed leaves, compost, or manure, can improve the nutrients in the soil. Adding 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) of organic material each year can make a big difference. Compost is the most common additive and you may be able to get it from your city’s Public Works Department. Composted manure or hummus can also be good additives for soil. Peat moss can be good for sandy soils, but some gardeners are concerned about the sustainability of peat moss harvesting.
If your pH is very low or high, you might consider adding limestone or sulfur to change the soil chemistry. Limestone will raise the pH from 5 to around 6.5. Sulfur will lower the pH from around 8.5 to 6.5. Keep in mind that if you add garden organic material like manure, it may gradually affect your soil’s pH. You may need to retest your soil if you are not getting the results you want.