Gardening Basics

How to Remedy Soil and Weed Problem II

In this part of the article on soils and weeds, we’ll talk more about the main soil types and what you can do to improve it. There are many different soil problems you may encounter so it’s important to perform a soil test to know what you’re dealing with and what to do to improve the soil in your garden.

Dry Soil

If the soil in your garden is dry, there are some solutions you can implement. Chronic dry soil is best improved by adding some humus-rich compost. It will help it to retain moisture, which is beneficial for your plants.

You can easily add some mulched leaves and composted manure mixed with about 10 to 20 percent of worm compost. This is a good mix for improving chronic dry soil.

It’s best to do this in the fail, so the winter rain can help in decomposition. This action will help a lot to improve the state of your soil the next spring. This is one of the best ways to improve the fertility of dry soil.

Compacted Soil

Another common problem is a compacted soil. It often happens if your garden has a frequent foot traffic, particularly during the time when the ground is wet. Motorized vehicles are particularly bad for the soil, so if you use tractors, lawn mowers and similar machines in your garden you might end up with compacted soil.

To remedy this type of soil, you need to break the top layer of the soil. It’s vital to break those 2 inches on the top, and it’s best done with a spading fork. Do not use a shovel. Ideally, you should to it sometime in the fall. After you do this, make sure to add 2 inch layer of composted manure and leaves mixed with 10 to 20 percent of worm compost. This will go a long way in improving your soil and its fertility the next spring.

Breaking through

The compost will add microbes and worms, which will work in improving the soil fertility. They will also help breaking up the soil. This is all you need to do to improve the soil. You don’t need to use old rototillers or spend hours double-digging to break the soil. In fact, these actions can only do more harm than good. Doing this will only harm the existing microbiology of the soil, fungi in particular, and you don’t want that.

Another thing you may wish to consider is adding 23-30 lbs of gypsum per 1000 sq.ft.  It will help to loosen things up in the soil. Keep in mind that gypsum is not a quick agent but it will help in the 2 to 3 years. It can truly penetrate the compacted strata and make the soil loose. Also, it will allow the air and water to get to the newly created spaces, which will improve the soil fertility even further and make the soil better for your plants.

In the spring, you should add some more composted material to the surface of the bed. You can perform planting directly on this top player, by adding a handful of worm compost to each transplant or sprinkling. Go along the seed trench and add compost as you plant. It will ensure the best start for your new plants.

Acidic Soil

Acidic soil is common in areas that receive a lot of rainfall, such as Eastern US and Pacific Northwest. These areas are known with slight to moderately acidic soil. Acidic soil is also common in areas with pine and oak trees.

Acidic soil, if fertile, is not so difficult to remedy. Acidic soil can actually be revealed by the weeds growing in your garden, since there are some plants preferring this soil type. That being said, if you wish to grow plants and vegetables that do not like acidic soil, it’s important to remedy it in order to have a healthy garden.

One good thing about having weeds in the garden is that they signal the soil is fertile. It may be acidic and not suitable for all plants, but it does contain enough organic matter. This is a good situation, because it means the only thing you need to worry about is the pH value of your soil.

The best way to remedy highly acidic soil is to have lime added to it. You should put about 7 to 9 lbs of calcitic lime per 100 sq of the garden. It’s best to do this in the fall. Since lime is a slow-release agent it takes time to remedy the soil, so you need to do it early so the sol has time to get better before the spring planting.

You can find this type of lime at most garden stores, so it’s not a problem to get the best agent for improving your soil.

In case the soil is only mildly acidic, you will need only 5 lbs per 100 sq. feet, so keep this in mind when deciding on the dosage.

There is also a possibility that your soil lacks magnesium. In this case, it’s best to use dolomitic limestone. It is very beneficial for remedying soil that lacks magnesium. However, in order to be sue that this is what soil in your garden needs, it’s vital to perform a soil test.

Another alkalizer you may wish to try and that is known as being very effective is wood ash. It’s best to use ash from a wood-burning stove or a fireplace. This is a very natural agent and it’s recommended for remedying your soil.

If you wish to use wood ash, make sure not to use more than 25 lbsof wood ash per 1000 sq. feet. If this seems like too much, or if you want to increase pH values of the garden soil only a little, you may use half of that amount.

In case the soil is not fertile enough, you will also need to increase the humus content of the soil. It’s best to use thermophilic or worm composts. Ideally, it should be a mix of both, where worm compost makes 10 to 20 percent of the mixture.

Adding microorganisms through worm compost is very cost-effective. This is a natural way to release those nutrients in the soil and improve the soil’s fertility. It’s definitely something you need to think about when improving your soil – improving pH values is not enough if the soil is not fertile enough.

Alkaline Soil

Arid and desert areas are known for alkaline soil, so if this is the case for your garden, you will need to improve the soil in order to grow plants.

There are some powerful agents you can add to remedy alkaline soil. The best ones are gypsum, calcium sulphate or powdered sulphur. All these elements are known for lowering pH values of the soil. The exact effect will depend on how alkaline the soil is, and how acidic is the amendment you wish to use. Generally speaking, these agents are effective enough to turn your alkaline soil into a more welcoming environment for your plants.

Another thing you may wish to try is to add some thermophilic compost mixed with worm compost to improve the soil’s fertility. It is also known to help with remedying alkaline soil and it can lower pH values of the soil.