How to improve soil organically

The key to a thriving garden is to have rich, healthy soil that in turn supports strong plant growth, improved flowering and bigger harvests in the vegie patch. Here’s some advice on how to fix the most common soil problems from Eco Organic Garden.

Low nutrient levels

Australian soils are very old in geological terms with many of the nutrients leeched out, so you need to regularly fertilise your garden. Apply organic nutrients like compost and aged manures every two to three months during growing seasons and use liquid organic fertilisers, like Eco Organic Garden’s eco-aminogro on hungry plants like annuals and vegies. Plus, it’s a good idea to apply Eco Organic Garden’s eco-seaweed every two to four weeks to reduce plant stress and stimulate soil microbes, which improve soil structure and nutrient availability.

Clay soils

Clay soils suffer from poor drainage, which sees them become a sticky mess when wet, or rock hard when dry. Adding sand, organic matter and gypsum to these soils helps open them up and improve drainage. Choose the liquid eco-flo gypsum over powdered gypsum because it works much faster and doesn’t need to be dug in. Just water it over the clay soil.

 

Sandy soils

These soils are too free-draining and struggle to hold moisture and nutrients. Improve sandy soil by regularly adding clay and organic matter. For example, compost, manures and fine mulches, which break down easily. Sandy soils are often water repellent so see the tips below to fix that problem.

Water repellent soils and potting mixes

Ever watered a garden bed or pot plant only to discover the soil is still dry when you scratch beneath the surface?  These are soils which have become hydrophobic or “hard to wet” and it’s very common in soils with low organic content or which are dry for extended periods. Adding compost and manures can help but usually a wetting agent, like Eco Organic Garden’s eco-hydrate, is needed to allow proper water penetration. Eco-hydrate also attracts extra moisture to plant roots and contains seaweed extracts to help reduce plant stress.

Correcting soil pH

Soils can be either acidic, alkaline or neutral and this is measured using the pH scale of 0 to 14.  Zero is extremely acidic, 7 is neutral and 14 is extremely alkaline. You should test your soil pH as most plants grow at their best in soils that are slight acidic to neutral (6.5-7). Outside this range, plants can quickly show signs of nutrient deficiency or excess. Signs of this include pale, yellowing or mottled leaves and stunted growth.

Use a pH testing kit to quickly determine your soil pH using samples from several places around the garden. Don’t forget pot plants too. If your soil is too acidic apply Eco Organic Garden’s eco-flo lime or eco-flo dolomite for fast correction. If too alkaline then apply sulphur and organic matter.  Retest the pH periodically and make further corrections if necessary.

Salty soils

Many things can cause a harmful build-up of salt in the soil. For example, artificial fertilisers, swimming pool splash, recycled grey water and changing water table levels. Flush out these salts by applying Eco Organic Garden’s eco-flo gypsum a couple of times a year. In addition, switch to organic fertilisers and eco-friendly products in the house (detergents, soaps and shampoos) to reduce the salt burden.

Get your soil sorted

View the full Eco Organic Garden range available at your local Bunnings.

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How to improve soil organically

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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