Home Garden Soil Management
Welcome to our 2022 gardening series: Starting from the basics – Home gardening, and our first topic is “Home garden soil management”.
Soil preparation and management is a very essential aspect of gardening. To begin growing your vegetables, herbs and flowers, you first have to prepare your growing medium (in this case soil mix).
SIMPLE SOIL MIX
To prepare a simple soil mix, combine the following:
1 part loamy or top soil + 1 part manure/compost + 1/2-part cocopeat
Mix together and use as your growing medium.
NB: You can increase the quantity of cocopeat, if you want a more loose soil.
Other Elements that can be added in moderation to the soil includes:
Lime stone: can be added to increase PH of the soil to make it neutral
Neem cake: to help fight against pests like nematodes, termites, other soil insect pests, fungi as well as release fertilizer into the soil.
Wood ash: can help increase the PH of your soil and also a good source of potassium.
This soil mix can be used in pots/ container gardens. Now let’s talk about ground soil preparation.
Identify your soil type. This can be sandy, clay, loamy soil.
Clear the area you want for a garden of all unnecessary things. Clear the weeds, remove undesired materials from the land.
Analyse the landscape. Identify whether the land is slopy, or flat. This will help you better setup your garden in a way to help reduce soil erosion and reduce water logging. If the layout is slightly slopy, you can fill it up or level the ground. Another way is to create your beds across the slopes to serve as barrier to soil erosion.
Prepare the garden area to ensure good drainage, aeration and spacing. Using a hoe, garden folk, dig out the soil around the planting area to loosen it up and allow for aeration. This process is called tillage. Break up compact soil and mix it up with fertilizer, organic matter in the form of cocopeat, manure and compost, following the soil mix method provided at the start of this guide. Mix thoroughly before panting.
Depending on the type of garden you are setting up, your application of this will be different.
If container or raised bed garden, you can add your soil mix directly, and then level it up.
If beds, make sure to dig out a drainage area lower than the level of your garden beds to encourage excess water to drain out. Also make sure that the edges of the bed are slopy to allow for excess water to drain out of the garden bed. Your bed dimensions can be 4*4, 4*6, 4*8, etc with drainage paths on both sides.
If individual holes, (this mostly apply to fruit trees), mix the soil dug out of the hole with manure, cocopeat in the method described above and apply the mixture around the plant.
This is an important practice when it comes to soil management. Soil testing helps to understand the soil makeup, PH, nutrient level and needs of your soil. This can be done with a simple soil test kit at home or a lab.
In events where your soil seems to be lacking some elements, the following are organic means of reconditioning your soil.
Cocopeat: soil conditioner for aeration and water retention. Use this as a mulch during sunny periods in the garden to reduce dehydration in your containers or garden beds.
Aged manure: good source of nutrients, aerates the soil, and increase water retention. Chicken manure provides more help if the goal is centered on aeration and nutrition.
Compost: decayed and decomposed plant materials, have the potential to increase soil PH and nutrient as well as the water holding capacity of the soil.
Fresh leaves & kitchen waste: can be added to the garden soil months before planting, to add nutrient to the soil and increase the level of organic matter.
I hope this material will be helpful in preparing your garden soil for this season’s gardening activities.
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