How to prepare best soil for a healthy garden?
"Food is as healthy as the soil in which it is grown"
Good soil is an integral part of any healthy garden, it becomes even more critical when we grow plants in pots in our terrace or balcony. As our potted plants are not connected with natural soil ecosystem and hence it needs extra care & nutrients.
The proportion of sand, silt and clay particles determines the texture of our soil and affects drainage and nutrient availability, which in turn influence how well our plants will grow.
Our soil could be divided into three main types:
This soil holds on to the nutrients well, but drains poorly. It can be heavy to dig when wet and can bake hard in summer.
This is found in northern plains of India. Its not ideal for gardening, but can be improved upon by adding organic matter like kitchen compost, cow dung manure or well decomposed garden waste.
Organic matter can provide much needed drainage in clay soil. You can even buy compost available with any online or offline gardening store.
Sandy Soil :
Sandy soil has very large particles, which prevents it from holding moisture and nutrients. Other than a few plants ( Succulents and Adeniums ), this kind of soil is unsuitable for most plants.
Sandy soil can be improved by adding organic matter like kitchen compost, cow dung manure or well decomposed garden waste. Organic matter can help in water and nutrient retention.
Loamy soil is great for gardening as it provides right amount of nutrients and good drainage.
Ideal potting mix for gardening :
An ideal potting mix should have good drainage, right amount of nutrients for plants and sufficient soil aeration for root growth.
Its very easy to make our ideal potting mix for our plants:
- Adding organic matter is best way to improve our soil. Well rotten organic matter is a cheap and good for improving both clay and sandy soils. Rather than digging it in, lay it on the surface as mulch and allow earthworms to draw it into the soil. As they tunnel and feed, worms aerate the soil and improve its structure
- Minimize use of chemicals: Before trying any chemical, always consider alternatives to pesticides first like horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps etc. Pesticides kill pests, but they also can kill beneficial soil microbes and insects.
- As a rule of thumb, we can mix our local soil with coco-peat and compost in equal proportion to make the ideal potting mix.
You can use a number products from an online or offline gardening store to help improving your gardening soil.
Neem Cakes :
These helps in getting rid of harmful insects and also enriches soil with NPK naturally.
If you are not able to find local manures, here are few natural and organic options like - Poultry manure, Cow dung manure and vermin-compost etc.