Improving very clayey soils

Improving clayey soil isn’t an easy task, nor is it quick. It may take several years before your garden starts thriving. Instead of improving your soil, you can build raised beds. Avoid walking on the soil whenever possible so you don’t compact it. Perform an immersion/dispersion test: Drop a 6 mm piece of dry soil [more]

Improving very sandy soils

Very sandy soils are often water repellent. Dry hydrophobic soils can be improved by initially applying a wetting agent. You can use a commercial product, or just soapy water, grey water irrigation also makes soils less water repellent. Another recipe is to dissolve 2 tablespoons of powdered agar agar in 2 cups of hot water [more]

Testing soil drainage

Dig a hole 15 cm square, 30 cm deep. Fill the hole with water and let it drain completely, then fill it with water again. If it takes longer than four hours to drain, drainage is poor. [more]

Testing soil texture

According to it’s composition a soil is classified as ‘sandy’, ‘loamy’ or ‘clayey’. Sandy soil shows great aeration and drainage, dries out quickly, it’s often poor because it doesn’t keep nutrients well and doesn’t break down easily to offer new nutrients Loamy soil shows good balance between aeration and drainage, has good water retention, keeps [more]

What’s good soil made of?

Soil is a heterogeneous mix of water, minerals and anorganic particles (by size) Rocks break down and wash away very slowly, improve drainage and aeration, disturb the growth of root vegetables Sand breaks down very slowly and wash away slowly, improves drainage and aeration Silt breaks down slowly washes away and is blown away by [more]

Soil pollution

Plants take heavy metals like arsenic, lead and cadmium up from the soil and by consuming the vegetables we also consume those pollutants. If we want to establish a garden that can provide us with healthy veggies and herbs, it is important to deal with this risk. Macquarie University’s VegeSafe program is surveying heavy metal [more]

Acidity and alkalinity of soils

While plants differ from each other in terms of their tolerance for acidity or alkalinity, most plants do best in neutral soil. This is because roots cannot absorb nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium if the soil is too acidic, and they cannot absorb trace elements like iron, manganese and copper if the soil [more]

Plants roots and soil

  Healthy plants develop by taking in nutrients through the roots. Roots can only absorb nutrients that are dissolved, so solid soil components and compost need to be broken down through the action of soil micro-organisms. Thousands of fungi and soil bacteria naturally exist in fertile soil, but worm castings are also a great source [more]