What you need to know about soil

When it comes to lawn and garden success, soil is an especially important component. Here are four things to know about it:

1. Don’t confuse it with dirt

Dirt is what is under the rug; soil is what is in the ground (or containers) where plants grow. Good soil is the difference between healthy robust plants and lush lawns or struggling-to-live plants and weed-filled lawns. The best soils have a good loamy consistency that provides nutrients along with equal parts air and water for proper root growth.

2. Promote root growth by adding organic matter to soil

Is your soil too sandy? Does water run through it too quickly? Perhaps your soil is like most in this area: dense thick, clay type with little permeability for water or air to get through. Adding organic matter to soil can help your plants grow successfully. Organic matter helps provide a healthier growing environment for the plant roots to get the air and water that is lacking in both sandy and clay soils. It also provides a source for the important mycorrhizae fungi that enhance the roots ability to draw more water and nutrients, especially the uptake of phosphorus which is key to root growth. And good root growth is the key to healthy, productive plants.

3. Compost sources can vary

Sources of compost can be from your own bin or you can purchase composted cow manure, composted cotton burr, or mushroom compost from Countryside Flower Shop and Nursery. When planting in the ground, mix mushroom compost with the soil you dig out from the hole and use the mixture to backfill. Additionally, you can use cotton burr compost as a mulch on top of the soil to retain soil moisture and inhibit weed growth. In the vegetable garden, use compost between the rows during the growing season and then simply till it into the garden prior to planting the next season – you will be amazed at how much more your vegetable plants will produce. Scratch compost into the top layer of soil around existing perennials to continue feeding the soil that is supporting your plants.

4. Products can be added to improve soil

Countryside recommends two products from Jonathan Green: “Love Your Soil” and “Mag-i-Cal.” ‘Love Your Soil’ feeds the beneficial microbes in your soil, naturally loosening hard soil. ‘Mag-i-Cal’ adjusts the pH (alkalinity) of your soil which promotes proper root growth and helps curb weed and moss growth.

Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery & Garden Center : 5301 E. Terra Cotta Ave (Rte 176), Crystal Lake, IL : 815.459.8130 : www.countrysideflowershop.com

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