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5 Helpful Tips to Improve Your Garden Soil

5 Helpful Tips to Improve Your Garden Soil

 

While we often focus on the plants and flowers we see above the soil, it is what’s going on beneath the soil that can really determine the success of a garden. Even the most talented gardeners in the world will fail without good garden soil to work with. Good garden soil will set your garden up for success, providing flowers and plants with the necessary nutrients and space to grow properly. When your garden isn’t doing well, the root cause of the problem could be your garden soil. The good news though is that there are many things you can do to fix bad soil and improve the health of your garden. Listed below are 5 improvement tips to improve your garden soil.

 

Test Your Soil

Plants need certain nutrients to grow properly, and a soil test will determine exactly what is in your soil and at what concentrations. Three of the most important nutrients to consider are phosphate, potassium and magnesium and knowing these levels will allow you to buy the proper fertilizer to correct for imbalances.

Soil tests also reveal the soil’s pH level. The pH level is a scale of how acidic or alkaline the soil is, ranging from 0 to 14 with a 7 midpoint. Most plants grow well in pH ranges from 5.5 to 7.0, although some plants prefer soil environments outside this range. Once you know your soil’s pH, you can take necessary measures to correct it (for example, adding lime if the soil is too acidic, or sulfur if it is too alkaline).

 

Nitrogen

Nitrogen is not part of your standard soil test because it is hard to measure and affected by a number of factors. However, nitrogen is an important nutrient for plant growth and getting it right is crucial to your gardening success. To improve nitrogen content, you can add organic matter, which stores nitrogen and releases it into the soil as it breaks down. Some good organic matter options include manure, grass clippings, compost, coffee grounds, and nitrogen fixing plants such as peas or beans.

Nitrogen is also found in fertilizers on your gardening store shelf. Fertilizers are listed in N-P-K ratio and look something like 10-10-10 with nitrogen being the first number in the group. Learn more about fertilizer ratios.

 

Mulch

Mulch is not just an aesthetic addition to your garden. It can actually help improve your soil. Adding mulch promotes fungi and bacteria in the soil, beneficial microscopic critters that help with nutrient balance. Mulch also helps the soil retain its moisture, protects it from overheating, prevents erosion, and also feeds the soil with nutrients as it breaks down.

 

Compacted Soil

Compacted soil also poses a problem because when the soil is dense and hard, it does not leave proper room for the transmission of water, nutrients and air – all valuable ingredients in a healthy garden. To fix compacted soil, you should loosen to a depth of at least 12 inches for most plants or up to 2 feet for larger plants and trees. You can do this manually with shovels or rent equipment for harder areas. To prevent the soil from getting re-compacted, add compost to keep it loose. You can also create pathways in your garden to walk on, which will minimize stepping where you plant, a common cause of compaction.

 Cover Crops

By harvest time, the nutrients you added to the soil earlier in the season become depleted because they have been used to help grow the vegetables you are harvesting, leaving the soil nutrients imbalanced once again. One way to deal with this is by planting cover crops with the purpose of restoring the soil. Cover crops (also called green manures) include fall or winter rye, alfalfa, oats, buckwheat, field peas, vetch and legumes. They are planted in the late summer and early fall, then tilled under in late winter or early spring. The many benefits include restoring nutrients and organic matter, fixing nitrogen levels, lessening erosion and preventing soil compaction.

 

The success of your garden is tied to the quality of your soil. While you may experience any number of soil problems or deficiencies, the good news is there are many things you can do to correct bad soil. Follow these tips and you can create the optimal conditions for growing a beautiful garden.

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Growing Cilantro – How to grow Cilantro

Growing Cilantro – How to grow Cilantro

Cilantro Herb

Growing Cilantro in pots

Cilantro herb is one of those herbs that has a flavor like no other. Cilantro is also known as Coriander, chinese parsley or Dhania in the Indian subcontinent. Cilantro herb is used for its aromatic leaves or for its seeds that pack a ton of flavor.

Fresh Cilantro is used in every kitchen in India daily. This makes growing cilantro a must in your vegetable garden. If you are wondering “How to grow cilantro at home?” you are reading the right article. Growing Cilantro is very easy and fun. Cilantro is very fast to grow and within 6 weeks you can harvest cilantro. Even if you are an urban gardener with limited space, you can learn how to grow cilantro in a pot. Growing cilantro in a pot is just as easy as it is in the ground.

Cilantro Seeds

The only way to grow cilantro is from seeds. If you know how to grow cilantro from seeds, you will get year-round supply of cilantro from your garden. Cilantro seeds are actually part of their fruit. The fruit of the cilantro dries out to form a pair of seeds enclosed in a dry hust. In fact, each pod contains 2 seeds and they will become two individual plants. To get better germination rate, the following practice is followed. Gently press/crush the seeds in between your hands just enough to split the husk open and exposing the seeds inside. Sometimes soaking the seeds for about 12 hours helps to speed up the germination of cilantro seeds. But soaking is not mandatory.

How to plant Cilantro

Once the cilantro seeds are prepared using the said procedure, they are ready for planting. You can plant them indoors or outdoors. Cilantro needs sunlight to grow well. It tolerates partial shade but thrives under good light.

Sowing cilantro seeds is just like any other seed. You sprinkle them in a good quality potting soil meant for seed starting. Cilantro seeds need to be covered with 1/4th inch of topsoil or potting mix. Depending on the weather conditions cilantro seeds may take anywhere from a week to 10 days to germinate. Soon after they germinate they can be moved outdoors to a place that is well lit.

If you started the seeds indoors, it is good to plant them outside with 3-4 inches between cilantro plants.You should be planting cilantro thickly as it helps reduce the soil temperature due to shading. If you are planning on growing cilantro in pots, then select a good quality potting mix and then plant cilantro in that.

Cilantro Growing Conditions

Cilantro is a cool weather crop, which means it does well when the temperatures are around 18-26 deg C ( 65- 75F). If the temperature goes above the range, cilantro will start bolting. Bolting is a process in which the cilantro goes into flowering and produces seeds. When the cilantro plants starts to bolt, the leaves reduce in size and flowers are produced. To avoid cilantro bolting problem, plant cilantro in a place that receives morning sun and has some shade in the hottest part of the day. When planting cilantro, plant them in a well drained soil that is rich in nutrients. Water the cilantro plants in the morning or in the evening. Watering in the mornings is the right way.

Tips for growing cilantro

Cilantro is a short term crop. It means you can start harvesting or pruning cilantro after 3-4 weeks of growth. Regular harvesting of cilantro leaves can keep the plant producing. Eventually, the cilantro plant will bolt . To get continuous crop, plant cilantro seeds every month.

Cilantro plant responds well to fertilizer application. Apply a general purpose fertilizer that has higher nitrogen percentage after 2 weeks. Application of fertilizer will result in lush crop with higher leaf content in the plant. One can also use Epsom salts for cilantro plants to make them grow much greener.

When planting cilantro, remember the above tips. With these tips on growing cilantro, you can have a continuous supply of cilantro herb in your garden.

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