[ecis2016.org] Check this guide on gardening soil for a home garden. We discuss the different types of soil and share useful tips to help ensure the healthy growth of your houseplants.
Healthy soil is vital for the proper growth of plants. This is as essential as having a strong foundation for any building. Soil is the loose layer of the earth’s surface that supports plant growth. If you have a home garden or a small balcony garden in your house, it is important to pay attention to the gardening soil quality, to ensure that your plants receive adequate nutrients.
Here is a complete guide to selecting soil for gardening to ensure your plants thrive and grow well.
Different types of soil for gardening
Soil mainly comprises a mixture of organic and inorganic substances, including minerals, gases and living organisms. When picking soil for planting, make sure to check its texture. This will help you decide if it is suitable for your plants. Usually, soils comprise three mineral particles – sand, clay and silt. One type of soil may have a higher amount of one of these than other soil varieties.
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We look at the different types of soil:
This type of soil has a balanced amount of the three mineral particles with humus or organic matter that aids in plant growth. Moreover, the higher pH and calcium level, superior draining properties and ability to retain water and nutrients, make it suitable for most plants. Bamboo, climber plants and perennials grow well in this soil.
This type of soil contains small and dense clay particles. It holds maximum moisture and nutrients but has poor draining properties that can harm the roots of plants. When dry, it can become hard and compact. Plants like Daylily and Ivy and other ornamental plants adapt well to clay soil.
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Sandy soil has large particles and it does not hold water and nutrients. The soil texture allows water to drain easily. Some plants like rose, lavender, rosemary and hibiscus grow in dry sandy soils.
This type of soil includes tightly packed, fine particles that prevent drainage and air circulation. The soil, also known as alluvial soil in India, retains water for longer and may get waterlogged quickly. It provides an ideal environment for growing different fruits, vegetables and shrubs.
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Best soil for plant growth
Potting soil has the best texture suited for flowering plants grown in flowerpots. However, the flower bulbs also grow well in sandy loam soil. When preparing the soil for a vegetable garden, include adequate compost and organic matter. You can add shredded, old bark and composted leaves. Make sure the soil is not sandy or compacted.
Avoid picking outdoor soil from a garden for growing indoor plants. Since the garden soil may contain excess bacteria that may be harmful to indoor plants. However, outside soil can be sterilised and used for houseplants. You can also go for commercial potting soil that is organically prepared and largely contains peat soil. Peaty soil is the best soil for plant growth as it is rich in humus.
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Gardening soil pH
Understanding the pH (potential of hydrogen) of soil also helps determine its quality. The soil is alkaline if it has a pH above 7 and acidic if the pH is below 7. Most plants in home gardens adapt to pH levels ranging between 6 to 7. Some plants benefit from acidic soil since nutrients like potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium get absorbed easily.
Gardening soil with organic matter
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Adding organic matter, including manure, leaves and compost to the soil, can greatly improve its structure. Here are some benefits of adding organic matter to the soil:
- Allows gradual release of the soil’s nutrients required by the plants.
- Increases pore space and allows air to enter.
- Significantly enhances the capacity of sandy soil to hold water and nutrients.
- Minimises the need for fertilisers.
- Helps regulate soil temperature.
Gardening soil price
The cost of potting soil commonly used in a home garden, kitchen garden or terrace garden ideas, ranges between Rs 30 to Rs 50 per kg.
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Soil for gardening: Useful tips
- Select a type of soil based on the kind of plant you want to grow in your home garden.
- You can purchase soil testing kits, to check the pH level of the soil.
- Use a garden fork to rake the compost with six inches of the upper soil layer and mix them well.
- Apply organic garden mulch to cover the soil. This allows the soil to retain moisture and prevent weeds.
- You can also prepare compost from kitchen waste like tea bags, dried leaves, vegetable peels, fruit peels, etc.
- When choosing planters or flower pots, ensure that the containers have drainage holes to prevent the soil from getting waterlogged.
- Grow plants in permanent garden beds to protect the soil structure.
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What is the difference between garden soil and potting soil?
Garden soil is the upper soil layer enriched with organic matter and used for planting and maintaining flower beds. Potting soil, also known as potting mix, comprises materials like sphagnum moss, vermiculite, bark, perlite and compost. It is used for growing plants in containers like potted houseplants. It has better drainage than garden soil but may only have the basic nutrients.
What can I mix with soil?
You can add organic matter or compost using shredded leaves or animal manure to enrich the soil.
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