Guide to Improving Your Soil
Good soil health is an essential part of a thriving garden ecosystem. With help from the soil improvement specialists behind Bloomin Amazing, we offer a guide to improving your soil quality.
British gardeners understand the critical importance of their soil. The sales of garden fertilisers reached approximately £200million in 2020, so the Nation’s plants, trees and shrubs are certainly well fed.
However, the health of our garden soil relies on so much more than fertiliser alone. Soil is made up of silt, clays, sands, minerals and, most importantly, the rotting organic matter of plant debris which has built up over many thousands of years. This rotting organic plant material in soils is what supports healthy plant growth. Soils poor in organic matter cannot support normal healthy plant growth and can result in hugely disappointing results for gardeners.
In very poor soils, commercial growers must supplement the use of fertilisers with high organic concentrates that add essential ‘humic’ materials that are critical to plant growth. These supplements are expensive and the benefits are temporary. A more sustainable solution is to focus on maintaining and increasing the natural organic matter in the soil where the soil microbes break it down to provide the same essential humic content entirely naturally.
More and more gardeners are adopting this traditional and sustainable way of conditioning their soils with natural organic fertilisers on their gardens and allotments.
The Benefits of Organics
Adding organic matter feeds plants, suppresses weeds, retains moisture and
looks attractive too
The good news is that there are lots of additional benefits to the use of bulky organics in the place of concentrate fertilisers.
1. A generous layer of organic compost on the surface of the soil will help to keep weeds down. Eliminating light from the surface with a 3cm deep layer of mulch prevents new weed seeds germinating. For effective control, deep-rooted, perennial weeds need to be removed before the mulch is applied.
2. Incorporated organic matter and surface mulches on the soil helps to maintain moisture and reduces the need for watering. This is especially helpful on light, sandy soils
3. Heavy clay soils, which can be difficult to work with, really benefit from the addition of bulky organic compost that help to break it up.
4. Organic matter is drawn down into the soil by the action of worms which further aerates the soil.
5. Surface mulching can help to protect young plants from damage by slugs and snails.
6. An even application of mulch can make borders look more attractive and provide the ideal backdrop for displaying your planting schemes to their best advantage
When to Add Organic Matter
Adding Organic Matter When Planting
When planting container-grown shrubs, trees and herbaceous perennials, add several generous handfuls of organic matter to the planting hole and mix more into the soil to back fill and firm the rootball in the hole. A further surface mulch suppresses weeds and looks attractive too.
Mulching Established Beds & Borders
Apply a generous layer around established plants and shrubs
In established beds and borders, an overall 3cm mulch adds the essential organic matter plants need and will be gradually incorporated into the soil by the natural action of worms. Organic materials release their fertiliser content slowly over long periods of time, so repeat applications may be needed only every couple of years.
Mulching Vegetable Plots
On the vegetable plot or allotment, organic mulches are frequently used in the ‘no dig’ method of cultivation. Increasingly popular, this growing system means that soil is never disturbed though digging. Every season, a new layer of mulch is added and young seedlings are planted through the mulch – frequently with an additional layer of cardboard to stop weeds. Advocates believe that this is a much friendlier way to condition the soil and improve its’ structure. Soil is less likely to become compacted and worms are allowed to thrive.
Types of Organic Matter
Choose organic matter for feeding the soil carefully. Homemade compost is a good option if you have the space for a good-sized compost bin. Vegetable peelings, fallen leaves and finely shredded prunings will rot down within a few months to provide a nutritious mulch. However, food waste might attract rodents and thicker stems can take years to break down.
In rural areas, you may be lucky enough to obtain well-rotted farmyard manure in bulk. It’s important not to use fresh manure as this can damage young plants and may disrupt the delicate soil microbiology.
Bloomin Amazing Soil Enricher
Bloomin Amazing is a unique triple action soil enricher made entirely from a by-product of the UK’s first commercial biomethane generating plant on the Duchy of Cornwall estate near Poundbury in Dorset. The 100% peat-free formula is an ideal soil conditioner and a perfect mulch with excellent weed suppression properties. It also has a significant fertiliser content and moisture retention assets so it really performs the roles of soil improvement, mulching and feeding in one product. Use Bloomin Amazing as a direct replacement for high quality, well-rotted farmyard manure.
Bloomin Amazing is a completely sustainable product with a low carbon footprint thanks to the raw materials being grown within an average 7-mile radius of the production plant. The raw material is in the form of maize and rye grown as sustainable break crops on local farms. These are fed into the plant which then takes around 30 days to fully complete the digestion process. The plant generates enough gas to flow to 7,500 homes in the winter and 100,000 homes in mid-summer. The main by-product of the process is a rich organic ‘digestate’ and it is this that becomes the finished product Bloomin AmazingTM.
Find Bloomin Amazing at all Hillier Garden Centres