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KID'S FIRST GARDEN
Step 2 - Getting the Soil Ready For your Garden Learn how important it is to have good soil in your flower garden. Take the time to know what kind of soil is in your garden, and how you can improve it. This will help in Step 3 when choosing what plants you want to grow in your garden.
Observation - After finding the right spot for your garden, feel the soil. Is it very wet after watering it or a rainfall? How does it feel after a hot sunny day? Does it get very dry and crack? Good soil will drain well, while holding moisture in so the soil does not dry out too fast. Soil should be loose and light so the plant's roots can reach deep down into the soil. Another way to see if the soil is good for growing plants is to see if there are already plants or weeds growing there. Are there worms living in the soil? Now have a look at your soil. Can you tell what type of soil you have? Read more to learn a little about soil for gardens.
Soil provides water, and nutrients, for plants to grow healthy and strong. Nutrients are used by plants for steady, healthy growth all summer long. Soil is made up of different sizes and shapes of rock particles, water, air, and organic matter. Organic matter is decaying plant parts and animal tissue. For example, rotting leaves, vegetables or plant parts break down and releases nutrients and humus into the soil. Humus is the end result of the decomposition of organic matter, which helps improve soil. Humus is home for other micro-organisms and worms that will help break down organic matter. If there are lots of worms living in the soil this is good. They help keep soil loose and spread the humus throughout the soil.
All plants need water for photosynthesis to take place. Photosynthesis is basically how a plant produces food that is needed for growth. Plants get water from rain, snow, natural water supplies from below the ground's surface, and by you watering your gardens.
Plants need a loose airy soil because plants breath through their roots from the air between the rock particles. So make sure the soil is not too wet because very wet soil is soggy and there will be no room for air.
The different rock particles formed from larger rocks and weathering create different soil types. Here are some soil types.
Sandy Soil- large gritty particles -feels loose and light -Water will drain quick and flushes nutrients away from roots the plants need, therefore watering often and fertilizing will be needed. Organic matter added to the soil will improve a sandy soil.
Clay Soil- tiny particles and holds together easy -heavy when wet -will get soggy if over watered, and will crack if too dry. -holds more water and nutrients than a sandy soil Organic matter added to the soil will improve a clay soil.
Chalky Soil-clumps like chalkboard chalk in the soil -water drains fast flushing nutrients away Organic matter added to the soil will improve a chalky soil.
Loamy Soil- Has a good balance of sand, silt, and clay particles. -Good drainage but water and nutrients are not flushed away giving plants a great home to grow. Organic matter added to the soil will improve a loamy soil.
Organic matter is a great way to improve soil and provides plants with nutrients as it breaks down.
Soil has something called a pH. This means the soil has a level of acidity or alkalinity. The pH scale is a number scale from 0 to 14.0. The middle which is 7.0 is neutral. Any number higher than 7.0 means an alkaline soil. Any number lower than 7.0 means the soil is acidic. Most plants like a pH to be between 6.0 and 7.0. Knowing the pH level in your garden can help you choose the right plants that will grow best in that pH level. A Soil Test from a local garden center can be done to find out the pH level in your garden. Follow the soil test recommendations to correct any high or low levels of pH.
Good garden soil- Soil needs good drainage, (Holds water in the soil but is not too soggy. Or does not dry out too fast.) If soil stays too wet, plant roots may rot. So, try adding some sand to the soil. If soil is too dry plants may not survive. So, try adding organic matter. It will replenish lost nutrients. In a good soil organic matter is plentiful and will hold moisture in while providing nutrients. ADDING ORGANIC MATTER IMPROVES THE SOIL. Knowing the pH of your soil does benefit when choosing plants for the garden. Remember most plants like a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. There are plants that prefer higher acidic or a more alkaline pH too. Getting to know the soil and making improvements takes practice, patience, trial and error. So learning how your soil reacts to dry days and hot days is a good start.
What to do Clear garden area of unwanted plants, weeds, and garbage. Loosen up the soil with a shovel or hand trowel, and break up any large clumps of soil. Add organic matter if needed and mix in well. Level soil with a small rake to make your garden bed nice and even. Now you are ready to learn about choosing flowers and seeds for your flower garden!