Maintaining Soil Fertility
There are certain gardening rules that pertain to what makes a plant grow. When we were in grade school we learned that it was simply water and sunlight that feeds the plants. While photosynthesis is great and does provide the necessary sugars to power a plant, there are tiny nutrients in the soil that are equally if not more important to the plant’s health.
Water is still very important to your plants health. It can be said that water is needed to release the nutrients in the soil. It’s known that about 300 pounds of water is required by a plant to grow 1 pound of solid matter. The roots draw up the water filled with nutrients and the leaves let the excess water evaporate back into nature.
Beneficial bacteria also are needed to help plants make use of the nutrients in the soil. You may find that your plants continue to do poorly in nutrient rich soil. Make sure that your soil remains moist and warm so that any beneficial bacteria may thrive and help your plant get the calcium, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulphur it needs. However too much water is as bad as not giving enough water to the plants, so it’s important to maintain the right composition and consistency of your garden soil.
The soil in your garden should consist of about forty percent humus, which is decayed leaf and plant matter and sixty percent minerals that are so essential to your plants. Humus in the soil can consist of manure, peat moss, leaf mould, or even decaying foodstuffs that you remove from your edibles. Soil that is sticky and clumps may have a lot of clay and requires more humus, and soil that looses water too easily needs more humus and clay. You can also add about twenty percent sand to the soil to increase the drainage and make it easier for the roots to grow.
If you have low lying land that tends to get flooded this is not good for the plants. You may need to place drainage tile on the property to allow for better drainage.
Now for the plants to have all the nutrients they need to be healthy it’s important that you make sure your soil has all the nutrients that can be found in the plants. The elements that plants use the most of and that you need to make sure you replenish often are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
You can replenish the required nutrients by either mixing in organic or chemical fertilizers. Organic fertilizers include bone meal, dried blood, and manure, but there are lots of others. Chemical fertilizers include all the nutrients in chemical form and are usually presented as a tablet, liquid or powder. They can be very strong so make sure to avoid contact with the skin and also the green parts of plants above the ground.
You want to fertilize the ground before planting by tilling the nutrients into the soil, and then again at several week intervals. Don’t over fertilize as this can weaken your plants.