Poor soil quality can make or break a garden. Of course, the failure can be attributed to other factors in certain cases, but more often than not, it is the bad soil which plays the culprit in translating your vegetation or flower beds into an utter fiasco and that can be a good bit devastating after all the sweat and effort you must have put into it.
Well, of course, there are ways how you can mend it and restore garden soil. The first thing is to do a soil test. Land grant institutes and country extension offices are places that will do a soil test for your garden at reasonable fees. You may also check the private soil testing labs from your area. A standard soil test will determine the pH level in your soil and will tell whether your soil is too alkaline or too acidic.
However, experts say that if you are living in an urban area, it is highly recommended that you also go for testing for heavy metals and lead which can creep into your soil through industrial pollution, lead-based paints, etc.
If your soil is contaminated, an easy and fast solution is to add new topsoil over your native soil to create a raised bed. However, gardening experts largely discourage this since if the native soil is not rid of the harmful elements, they will, over time, contaminate the topsoil, too.
If the alkaline level is too high in your soil, you can correct this by adding elemental sulfur or calcium sulfate. You can also increase the acidity of your soil by adding wood chips, sawdust, peat moss, composted leaves and cottonseed meal to your soil.
On the other hand, if you are looking to increase the alkaline level of your soil, you can do it by putting dolomitic limestone or plane limestone into your soil. Other options include adding bone meal, crushed oyster shell, hardwood ash, etc.
And irrespective of what you soil is suffering from, the quality of your soil will always improve by adding organic matter to the soil. Apart from slightly increasing the acidity level of the soil, organic components improve the overall quality of the soil by feeding the microorganisms that live there.
For more information on the subject and a wealth of useful articles on how to make your garden the envy of your neighborhood, follow us on our blog “Pushing Daisies: Gardening Blog.”