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Monday, June 2, 2008

Soil in the Garden


In our endeavor to create a beautiful flower garden, we must first start with the soil. Soil is not just "dirt". It is instead a composition of minerals, water, air, organic material that has decomposed and bacteria. All of these must be in the right proportions to grow the flowers and plants that create our beautiful flower garden.

We all know that our flowers and plants gather their required nutrients for growth through their roots from the soil. This means each of us, as the gardener, must be the steward of our garden soil. Our neglect and abuse can ruin the soil. Indeed, in many parts of the country our farming and ranching soil has been so depleted as to make growing crops require ever increasing amounts of synthetic chemical amendments.

If you should dig into your soil, you will see that it is divided into topsoil and subsoil. The topsoil is where you will find most of the organic material and living organisms. However, plants draw minerals from the subsoil and it is important to our flower garden as well.

Soil differs in different parts of the country based upon the kind of minerals it is derived from and the size of the particles that make up the soil. These can range from gravel to clay. For most flower gardening situations, we are usually concerned with sandy soils to clay soils. This is important to know, as it has to do with the amount of air available within your soil for your plants to access. As well, it concerns how fast water is drained away from your plants.

Perhaps the best thing one can do with any flower garden soil is to add organic material. Some gardeners believe adding sand to any soil but already sandy soil is also of benefit. But organic matter is perhaps the most elegant solution for just about any type of soil problem. Organic matter can:

-help the soil hold more water

-help it drain better

-add important nutrients to the soil

-give bacteria and other beneficial organisms "food" to work with to the benefit of our flowers and plants

-changes the structure of our soil over time as we keep adding it.

copyright 2005. Sandra Dinkins-Wilson

Author : Sandra Dinkins-Wilson

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