Healthy soil is essential for healthy plants, so getting a head start on your soil before spring arrives is the key to growing good crops come springtime. And with spring just around the corner, there is plenty to be done to prepare your beds for the season.
Here, gardening experts from Phostrogen® share their top tips and jobs to do in the garden to reap the awards this year.
Begin by removing weeds from borders and beds, clearing any dead or unwanted matter and stripping beds back to bare soil. Be sure to place any dead organic matter into your compost bin to break down – in time, this will create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material that will enrich your soil and plants. Remember not to throw your weeds in the compost bin too, though, as they may germinate and cause serious issues for your beds further down the line.
Next, fork over the soil to loosen it and get oxygen into the ground, removing any large stones and breaking down any lumps of soil. Inspect your soil and perennial plants for any hibernating pests now, as these will hatch as the weather warms up and wreak havoc on your crops. Dig over beds to expose soil pests, like white-vine-weevil larvae, to frost and predators.
There are four main types of soil – clay soils, silty soils, sandy soils and chalky soils – each with its own characteristics which call for different planting methods. Whilst many gardeners may try to alter their soil type, it’s actually much better – and easier – to identify what soil type you have and plan your planting and plant-care accordingly.
Use a pH tester to check the pH of your soil in multiple locations in the garden. Generally speaking, a pH reading from zero to six is considered acidic, seven is neutral, and eight to 14 is alkaline. When planning what you’re going to plant where, always keep in mind the soil’s standard pH level so that you match the plants suitability to the soil pH. To help acid-loving plants thrive, such as azaleas, camellia and rhododendrons, you may need to invest in a specialist fertiliser like Phostrogen® Ericaceous Plant Food. This contains extra added iron to produce richer, greener leaves whilst preventing yellowing, which can be a common problem in such plants.
Of course, water is not the only essential element for plants, so it’s important to invest in professional fertiliser to help your garden grow bigger plants, better blooms and more vegetables. While the soil contains nutrients to help plants grow, over time even the richest soil becomes exhausted as the plants absorb the goodness that they need. These need to be replaced over time.
Although it may not be time to put fertiliser down just yet, it’s a good idea to stock your shed up ready for the key growing season. Fertilisers comprise of several key elements to help your plants thrive, including Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium Iron and Magnesium,. These ingredients promote healthy green foliage and an abundant of flowers and fruit, as well as help plants become more drought resistant and develop a healthy root system.
There are a variety of fertilisers and forms to choose from, like Phostrogen® All Purpose Plant Food granules, which are applied directly around the base of the plant and simply hoed in before watering. This form has the benefit of a slower release of up to 100 days and is very easy to use.
Liquid fertilisers, such as Phostrogen® Liquid Plant Food, can be diluted into a watering can and generously applied around the roots and as far out as the foliage reaches, getting to work fast. For organic gardeners, there are also a variety of feeds certified by the Organic Farmers & Growers, including the new Phostrogen® Organic All Purpose Plant Food, which is enriched with seaweed for a naturally fertile soil.*