It’s easy to underestimate just how complex dirt is. After all, it’s everywhere. But what allows some soil to produce beautiful vineyards while other dirt is destitute of life? Well, in general, good soil is the result of good physical properties, good chemical properties, and good biological properties all coming together. If you’re missing any one of these properties, your loam won’t be as productive as it potentially could be. But good “physical,” “chemical,” and “biological,” properties are more than a little vague. So what are soil scientists really talking about?
When we’re talking about the physical properties of the soil, we’re talking about the texture. In our last article, we discussed how screening topsoil leads to a better quality loam. In short, we screen our soil through a tight ½” (12mm) mesh, which means both our screened topsoil and our premium garden soil blends have a highly consistent physical particle size and a loose texture.
A consistent particle size makes for a healthier growing space. Water is able to be absorbed more effectively, and soil looseness means that air and nutrients can penetrate deeper into the soil, and roots are able to grow freely. These characteristics together mean you can expect taller, more productive plants, and fewer compaction and water-related plant diseases, such as root rot.
The Right pH.
From a chemical view, you’re looking for the right pH. As a rule of thumb, you want your soil to be just slightly acidic. Most plants thrive in soils with pHs between 6.0 and 7.0, so aim for 6.5. Of course, there are always exceptions, some plants (blueberries, azaleas) are going to want the soil to be on the more acidic side, while others (ferns, asparagus) want to be right around 7.0 or even a little higher. Soil pH testing kits are available, and you can adjust from there depending on what you’re growing.
Plenty of Organic Matter.
Biologically, the question is how much organic matter is mixed into the soil that provides nutrients for the plants growing in it? In general terms, plants eat dead stuff, so the biological or organic matter includes all the dead plant- and animal-tissue mixed into your soil which is decomposing and enriching your loam. By blending some fine mulch in your soil, you are also able to further increase the soil’s aeration and drainage, while providing long term release organic matter. The biology of your soil will also be impacted by the microorganisms present to help break down organic matter into base elements that plants can absorb. Using soil amendments, like worm castings and compost, help to improve the microbiology of your soil in addition to supplying nutrients.
There’s nothing easy about providing great soil. It requires precisely balancing physical, chemical, and biological factors. But, from screening our loam through the tightest screens in Calgary to experimenting with ratios of compost to soil in order to create the best garden blends available, our team at Soil Kings is up to the challenge. Contact our team today to learn more about what makes our soil products the best in Calgary. Order today, and we’ll deliver tomorrow (weather permitting).