Whatever you’re planting, it’s essential to know how to make the perfect soil mixture. It can be herbs, flowers, vegetables, indoor plants, outdoor plants, fruit trees, decorative plants, or seasonal plants. Every plant will need a certain type of nutritious soil that can support the kind of minerals, salts, and moisture that it requires. So Good soil is the basis for beautiful colorful decorative plants and good fruit-bearing trees. Whichever be the plant, the right kind of soil mix is essential.
Don’t matter much where the soil is from, it can be recomposed with the right additives depending upon what it has and what it doesn’t. There are basically 3 major soil types with variations under each. They are:
- Sandy Soil: This type of soil is loose and does not show much cohesion or clayiness. It is well-drained and does not hold moisture for a long time. It is also hard to use fertilizers directly to it. It needs to be mixed with some clay-type soil to make the right soil also called Loamy soil. This soil is easy for the roots to dig in but without much nutrients.
- Clay soil: This is sticky soil that holds water and is clumpy. The soil holds nutrients well but it is harder for roots to penetrate it. Water intensive crops like rice like this soil. It needs more additives to make it more manageable. Not more so with nutrients but to make it workable and a little looser.
- Loam Soil: What we call the ideal soil we need, with some humous or organic matter, this soil will retain moisture in the right quantity and let roots breathe and dig in easier. This is the perfect soil which we want to make.
It is easy to just go buy regular potting soil and I don’t blame them. Today, Potting soils on store shelves are not bad at all. Most reputed manufacturers have got it right. But in order to work with your garden and the type of plants you intend, you need to make your own. Let’s see what our ideal soil should have.
Qualities of the perfect soil mix:
- The right pH: If your soil is acidic, it will not help growth. Acidic soil means that the minerals contained in the soil and their availability to your plants are low. In general, the more neutral your soil is, the better your plants will be able to drink those minerals up. You can use a soil meter to measure pH, moisture, and light availability. There are plenty of cheap ones in the market that hardly cost 10 bucks.
- The right minerals: The soil should have the right minerals and nutrients. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, and other nutrients should be present in the soil for healthy growth, good fruit and flower, and healthy leaves, stems, and well-textured bark.
- Humus: It is the organic component of soil, made as a result of the decomposition of leaves and plant material by soil microorganisms. You can add it with vermicompost additives. You can also add some peat to achieve it. While organic matter gives texture to your soil and helps it bind, it also provides some valuable micro minerals and nutrients.
- Water retention and drainage: The soils should be able to retain and drain the right amount of water. Standing water is also not good as it chokes and decomposes the roots. So draining excessive water is essential. The soil should be able to absorb and hold the water enough for the plant to be healthy. It should also allow water to percolate till the very bottom layers for healthy absorption by lower layers.
Making the perfect mix of soil:
Test your soil to see where it stands: Take a test with a testing kit and a soil meter. There are testing kits that let you test various aspects of the soil. These tests will show you where the current soil stands. Using this information, you can decide what to add to the soil and in what quantities. Usually bags of additives like Epsom salt, NPK bags have guiding tables to help you.
Add Humous: You can add what you have access to here. Decomposed leaves, decomposed organic kitchen waste, vermicompost, peat, etc. For sandy soil, add some clay soil. Vermicompost is usually the best and quickest way to add the best humous that is available in the market. It immediately addresses a lot of issues with most soil types. Add as much as recommended on the bag as each compost type is made differently.
Adjust PH: Adjust if your soil PH meter shows in the red zone. Adding compost should have already help but if it does not, you can use dolomite lime. Add a tablespoon to each cubic foot and test again. Refrain from adding too much as it may make it over alkaline (yeah, that’ a thing too)
Keep it light: Do not compact or press down your soil. It will make it harder for the roots to dig in and decrease oxygen availability in the soil. Microbes and roots will be unhappy in compacted soil. So let it be loose and let only water settle it down. Also, not a good idea to be overenthusiastic about watering. Keep it watered right and to the point it’s moist but not overflowing.
Test again: Finally do a test and see if your soil meets the requirements, you may have to readjust the soil if needed. It is recommended to do final testing before filling it up in planters to save you time and energy.
There, you must now have the perfect soil. Feel free to add any antifungal additives. I personally like Neem compost or oil that I often get from my Indian friend. You can use a natural antifungal or anti-insect compost from a store too. You should cover the soil with mulch to save yourself from weeds growing over. Mulch will deprive the under foliage from sunlight and also provide the required raw material for earthworms and as a result, birds!
Ideal Soil Mixing Ratio:
- 1 part soil mix (equal part clay and sand)
- 1 part coco-peat
- 1 part vermicompost
- 1/2 part composted plant matter, bark, etc.
- 1/2 part worm casting
- 1 tablespoon neem oil or equivalent