Different soil types and what you can grow in them

A good gardener will know exactly what soil they have in their garden and pots, and which plants like the different types – because if they don’t, they risk disaster at worst or poor growth at best.

It’s important to know the different soil types and what you can grow in them, because your soil provides food, water, aeration and structure to your plants.

Those soils may look similar, they might even sometimes feel similar, but their characteristics can vary enormously, based on the size and texture of the particles and the chemical composition. There is more information on this at agrarianorganics.com/

The smallest elements are found in clay soil; at least a quarter of the composition will be built up of particles less than 0.002mm in size, which can be both a bonus and a hindrance.Anyone who has ever owned a clay pot will know how compacted and cracked the material can become. As the Royal Horticultural Society says: “Clay soils are easily compacted when trodden on while wet and they bake hard in summer, often cracking noticeably. These soils often test the gardener to the limits, but when managed properly with cultivation can be very rewarding to work with.”

Treat your soil by working in some organic matter before planting, and then go for it – trees such as Japanese Maple, crab apple and magnolia; shrubs including hydrangea, roses and lilac; and perennials like foxglove, bluebells, and peonies, can all thrive in clay. The next type of soil to consider is silt, which comprises particles up to 0.05mm and is very similar to clay soil in that it can be fertile, but again can be compacted easily into ruin.

The other extreme is sandy soil, which feels…sandy. Light and loose, it’s easy to identify with its coarse, gritty nature, and easy to work.But because the particles are bigger, rain and water can soon slip through the gaps and drain away what little nutrients are contained within, so again it is worth treatment with organic material to compensate.

Lavender and buddleia shrubs will benefit from sandy soil, as will various herbs such as rosemary and thyme, and wallflowers.The other element of your soil to consider is its pH value, which signifies whether the soil is acidic or alkali, or somewhere in-between. Plants which like high acidic qualities will not like alkaline, and vice versa.

Sandy soils are often acidic, while ‘chalky’ soils which often contain white lumps of visible stone are alkaline. Clay, perhaps unfortunately, can be either.

Kits exist to test the pH values of soil, but a quick way of telling is to take soil mixed with a little water into a muddy consistency, and pour vinegar over the top. If the mixture fizzes, it’s alkaline. Alternatively add a little baking soda, as if that fizzes the soil is acidic.

There is little point in trying to change the acidic make-up of your soil, so stick with the type, and if necessary grow your plants in large containers using compost.

Your soil may be a mix of several quantities and qualities of the different types such as in loam, a blend of clay, silt and sand which is regarded as a ‘gardener’s best friend’. But remember the consistencies and percentages of the various soils may change across just a few feet.

So touch and appearance may help you identify your material – but experience will help your success rate as well.

Looking After Your Lawn In Winter

After the final harvest, it feels like it’s time for your
garden to fall asleep. Many gardeners will be turning their attention to the
indoor plants and making sure they pull through winter. Big mistake. Keep one
eye on your lawn as the days get colder, because your job’s not done yet!
Here’s how to look after your garden during winter.

Plant Your Perennials

As other people hit the shops to buy Christmas prezzies,
you’ll be driving to your local gardening centre. Here you can get your
perennials on clearance. They might look a little hard-done-by at this time of
year, but they’re perfectly fine. Plant them in the autumn, so you can enjoy
them all year around, without the extra cost.

Clean Up The Veggie
Patch

Dragging up your annual vegetable plants is unnecessary;
just chop the plants off a couple of inches above the soil line. Compost the
excess and leave the roots in the ground. Not only does this prevent erosion,
but it keeps the nutrients in your soil.

Mulch It!

Give your garden a once-over and cover it in mulch. As it
decomposes, it’ll transfer much-needed nutrients back into your soil and
protects your perennials from harsh winter weather.

Wherever you walk, you’ll notice that everything is covered
with leaves at this time of year. Collecting leaves and keeping them in bags to
compost for a year provides you with fantastic mulch for the next winter.

Protect Your
Equipment

A gardener is nothing without his or her tools. Hoses and
watering cans should be drained and stored because the H20 will freeze when
temperatures plummet, causing damage. Give your equipment a good clean and make
any repairs that you’ve been putting off, so you’re fully prepared for the
spring.

Rescue Plants

Bringing your plants indoors is lovely – it’s like your
house is just an extension of your garden and the foliage really brings life to
your rooms. Hot pepper plants are great for windowsills and spice up warming
winter dishes. Thyme is also an edible plant that will survive the chilly weather
if you let it inside.

Reflect

This is the best time of year to start thinking about next
year’s garden. Start drawing up plans for the future and reflect on what didn’t
work previously. Greenthumb lawn care service is
a great place to start for some advice on how to better look after your garden
in the future. If you’re really enthusiastic, you can buy your seeds now and
start growing them indoors.

Weeding

Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean you can get lax on
weeding. While the soil is warm enough, these blighters will keep growing.
Until we hit our first real frost, you’re going to have to keep fighting on the
front lines with your weeding routine.

Look After Your
Compost

Heaping up your compost now doesn’t mean that you’re going
to be blessed with lovely, crumbly compost come spring. Keep turning your
mounds over once a month to get high quality fertiliser. This ensures that the
compost breaks down evenly, as every pile spends some time in the middle, where
the mound is hottest.

Blog post written for Greenthumb by Jamie Knop.

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