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5 Common Soil Problems and How to Fix Them

Healthy soil is vital for growing healthy plants.  This may sound obvious, but there are many factors that go into determining the health of your soil. While some soil problems may be easily detectable, like the consistency and texture of your soil, it will take some basic testing to measure and analyze the nutrient levels of your soil. If you’re willing to put forth a little effort in fiing those pesky soil problems, you’ll still have the ability to grow and manage a healthy and beautiful garden.

Each garden will be different in terms of what the soil needs, so be sure to learn about your garden’s needs before trying to fix it.  A great way to learn more about your garden and what your soil needs to make it as healthy as can be is by using a soil testing kit, available at most garden supply retailers. Soil testing kits typically include multiple tablets that test the pH, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium levels in your soil and can tell you everything you need to improve its quality.

After you’ve assessed the quality of your soil, you’re ready to get started. Here are 5 common problems and easy ways you can fix them:

pH level is either too high or too low

Explanation: If you notice your garden isn’t growing, pay close attention to the pH level.  In order for your plants to thrive properly, the soil should neither be too acidic nor too alkaline.  If it’s one or the other, you’ll need to correct it.

Solution: There are two different solutions, depending on whether your pH is too high or too low.

  • pH is too high: Add pure sulfur to your garden, but be careful not to add too much if you have plants already planted in the soil. If you wish to take a different route, consider adding compost or composted manure.  This will help balance the pH out.
  • pH is too low: Lime is the perfect fix for gardens that have a pH that is too low. Look into recommendations from soil-testing agencies to see how much you should add.

Lack of essential nutrients

Explanation: Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are just a few key nutrients that are essential for an overall healthy garden.  If you’re lacking them, you won’t see the results you were expecting.

Solution: You can add things such as compost, manure, seaweed or granite dust to give your garden the essential nutrients it needs to thrive.

Too much sodium

Explanation: You can normally diagnose excess sodium in your soil by observing visual symptoms.  White specks of salt will be visible on the surface of the soil.  This will cause toxicity in your garden.

Solution: If the sodium levels aren’t at extreme, toxic levels, try using fresh water to refresh the soil.

Texture problems

Explanation: New gardeners may not always pay close attention to the size of the soil particles, but size does matter.  If the particles are too small, it won’t soak up the water and your garden will flood.  If the particles are too large, the plants will dry out.

Solution: Adding compost or sand to your garden will help improve drainage in your garden.  No matter whether the soil particles are too large or too small, this should be a quick fix for you.

Lack of organic matter

Explanation: Organic matter has many benefits to the soil, such as supplying nutrients and being highly water retentive.  If the garden is missing these things, it won’t have the nutrients or water it needs to survive.

Solution:  Try to prevent soil erosion from occurring.  Because the organic matter is located in the topsoil, when the soil erodes, all of the organic matter gets lost as well.  Also try adding compost into the soil for more organic matter.

Getting the perfect garden

If you notice that your plants aren’t growing quite like they should be, the quality of your soil is an important factor you should consider. If your soil is lacking in nutrients then your plants will be lacking in nutrients, almost certainly resulting in stunted growth or production. You don’t have to be an agricultural scientist to be able to identify and solve your soil problems, so get started today!

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