There are many things that can be done to improve your soil, and there are many ways to improve your soil you can :
- Add Compost
- Add soil improver
- Grow a green manure
- Add leaf mould
- Add fertilizer
- Add seaweed
So lets explore the best way to improve soil.
Why Improve your Soil ?
To grow good produce you need good soil. That is it in a nutshell. Every crop you grow takes something out of the soil and to keep growing good produce you need to keep the soil as healthy as you can.
What Is Compost ?
Compost is waste vegetable matter and cardboard etc.. that has been rotted down either in a bin or in a pile. Compost is a great application to improve your soil and it is free.
What Is Soil Improver ?
According to the Growing Media Association, Soil improvers are materials added to soil to improve its physical and/or chemical characteristics. So in theory everything you use to improve your soil is a soil improver.
Which Soil Type Needs Improving ?
As stated above soil improvers are used to improve either their physical or chemical characteristics, so all soil types will benefit from having some sort of soil improver added.
The two easiest identifiable soil types are :-
- Sandy soil
- Clay soil
Both of these soil types are at extreme opposite ends of the soil spectrum, and both soil types desperately need improving if you want to grow vegetables successfully.
What are the Characteristics of Sandy Soil ?
Sandy soil is very fine soil with hardly any organic matter in. This means that water will not stay in the soil it will drain away and your plants will struggle to survive in hot conditions. Sandy soil will also be washed away with heavy rain and you will eventually have no growing medium in which to plant anything.
What are the Characteristics of Clay Soil ?
Clay soil is the complete opposite of sandy soil. Clay soil is extremely dense and like it’s name suggests clay like. It holds moisture well in fact too well, your plants will possibly be water logged and die through lack of oxygen.
How to Improve Soils of all Types
So to sum up, whether your soil is sandy or clay or somewhere in between, it will all benefit from soil improver. Any of the above ingredients will ultimately improve your soil.
In my opinion the easiest and best way to improve all soil types is to add manure to the land. As soon as you have lifted the last of your crop in late Summer or early Autumn spread as much well rotted manure as you can get your hands on over the soil. Some people like to fork this in but personally, I like to just leave it on top of the soil and let it over winter. the worms will draw it down into the soil and whilst it is on the surface it will prevent weeds from growing. that’s what I call a win win situation.
Where to get Manure
On my allotment we are very fortunate, the local stables deliver all their manure to our site twice a week. All we have to do is return the empty sacks so that they can reuse them. If you are in an area where there are stables ask them if they will let you take some manure from them. Chances are they will be only too happy for you to take it.
If you are in a urban area it might be worth taking a trip out to the suburbs and having a look round you might be surprised at how many stables there are around.
How to Improve on Manure
According to a very informative youtube video I have seen the best manure to use is cow manure. This is used almost exclusively in India and the results are impressive. I am currently on the look out for an organic cow farm in my local area so I can obtain some of this wonder plant food but until then I’ll stick with the horse manure.