How is sand created naturally?

Determine and improve the garden soil

Status: March 9th, 2021 4:50 p.m.

If plants do not grow vigorously, this may be due to the nature of the garden soil and a lack of fertilizer. There are ways to sustainably improve the soil.

Whether roses, hedges or vegetables - all plants need optimal soil conditions for healthy and vigorous growth. Because not every plant grows in every soil and very few garden owners find the ideal garden soil at home. But there are a few ways to improve the soil.

But first of all, the nature of the soil must be determined. There are roughly three forms:

  • Sandy soils ("light soils"),
  • Loamy / sandy soils ("medium heavy" or "humic soils")
  • Clay soils ("heavy soils")

Determine the type of soil with a simple trick

Ideally, this is how loose the garden soil should be.

To determine if the garden soil is slightly moist, shape it into a ball and then try to roll it into a "sausage". If this is not possible and the earth has a crumbly structure, it is sandy soil. If the sausage can be shaped well and the soil is smooth but not sticky, the soil is clay / sand. If the sausage can be shaped well and the soil is not only smooth but also sticky, it is clay soil.

Clay / sand soil is the ideal garden soil

The ideal garden soil is a crumbly, well-aerated soil that can store sufficient water, is easy to work with and that contains sufficient nutrients. Usually it is a mixture of sand, loam, clay and humus. Clay / sandy soil is loose, stores both water and nutrients and can be easily worked. The air circulation in the floor is optimal and the floor heats up quickly.

This is how sandy and loamy soil can be optimized

Loamy and sandy soils can be improved by various measures. In sandy soils, the water flows off well, but is accordingly not stored for long. Drought quickly occurs, especially in summer. To increase the water storage capacity of the sandy soil, clay or clay mineral flour can be added. The addition of leaves or compost and mulching also improve the soil properties. Plant manure, for example from nettles, provides the soil with fertilizer in summer.

Loamy soils store a lot of water and are therefore prone to waterlogging. They are very dense, so that it is difficult for air to get into the soil and to the roots of the plants. In addition, the heavy soil only warms up late in spring, and plant growth begins relatively late. The soil should therefore be dug up - preferably in autumn. Regularly loosen the soil with a rake in summer. To improve the soil, it is advisable to incorporate compost and sand.

Soil analysis in spring for the right fertilizer application

A soil analysis provides information on whether, for example, the pH value is correct.

Even under ideal conditions, this soil has to be fertilized occasionally. The nutrient supply of the soil can be checked with quick tests from the gardening trade. In this way, it can be avoided, for example, that the supposedly intact soil has too high nitrate levels. The pH value can also be determined with a quick test. Many plants prefer a pH value between 6 and 7, but some plants like rhododendrons like it a little more acidic.

A laboratory analysis is recommended every three to five years. This provides information about the pH value of the soil and the main nutrients lime, potash, phosphorus and magnesium. The best time for this is early spring, as the plants will sprout again and may need nutrients. An alternative time is in autumn after the serious one. If you have problems with the lawn, it is also a good idea to have a soil analysis carried out.

What to look for in a soil sample

If there are problems with the lawn, a soil analysis can help.

Ideally, the soil samples come from different places on the area to be examined, so that a mixed sample is created and not just one point in the garden is examined. Unless only a special soil area in the garden should be tested if, for example, a single plant no longer thrives properly. Soil samples should always come from uniformly used areas. So vegetable garden, flower bed or the lawn. The depth of the sampling varies depending on what the area is used for:

  • Lawns: up to 10 centimeters
  • Vegetable garden: up to about 20/25 centimeters
  • Fruit trees / bushes: up to 30 centimeters

Private providers such as garden centers, but also recycling centers or some laboratories of the agricultural investigation and research institutes of the federal states (LUFA) offer soil analyzes that cost up to around 50 euros.

Surrounded or loosened the soil?

The soil can be loosened well with a cultivator.

There are different opinions about how the garden soil should be worked. In addition, both digging and loosening with a cultivator have advantages and disadvantages. When digging, larger amounts of manure or compost can be worked into the soil and thus provide the roots of the plants with nutrients. On the other hand, digging inhibits the balance of the soil structure and thus the effect of microorganisms.

When cultivating, only the top layer of soil is moved and the soil structure is largely preserved. In return, the fertilizer is not put so deeply into the soil and it is more difficult to get to the roots.

If you want to save yourself the strenuous loosening of the soil, you should ensure that as many earthworms as possible live in the garden. The worms can be grown with little effort and ensure loose and nutrient-rich soil.

Green manure in autumn provides nutrients

Phacelia is a typical green manure.

Green manure is recommended to improve the soil in a natural way. Suitable plants such as clover, rape, sunflowers, yellow mustard, lupins or phacelia (bee friend) are planted or sown. When they are fully grown, they are simply incorporated into the soil. Advantages: The formation of humus is supported, the washing out of plant nutrients and soil erosion is prevented. In addition, the green manure hinders undesirable, fast-growing weeds and promotes the water storage capacity of the soil.

Sow frost-hardy plants from August to October, as they will green the otherwise open garden soil in winter. In autumn they use residual nutrients in the soil that would otherwise be washed out.

Fertilize with horn shavings

In addition to compost and green manure, horn shavings are among the most popular organic fertilizers. These are the crushed horns and hooves of cattle. The relatively fine horn meal can be applied all year round, the nutrients are quickly available to the soil. Coarser horn shavings supply the soil longer, but only after about three months with nutrients.

Garden tip: soil maintenance in autumn

The secret of a beautiful garden lies beneath the surface of the earth. If the soil is healthy, the plants will grow better. Gardener Peter Rasch starts with a soil analysis. 3 min

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Garden Docs | 08/28/2020 | 9:15 pm