Have you been wondering why your seemingly healthy soil is no longer yielding the same crops it did seasons ago? Are you curious whether your soil is healthy, too acidic, or lacking major nutrients?
Learning how to tell if your soil is healthy is important, but understanding how to put nutrients back into the soil is imperative in order to keep your crops, plants, and other vegetation growing. We’re going to discuss the best ways to determine the health of your soil as well as how to enrich poor soil or improve it even after years of use. Sequoia Soil Company is the premier bulk compost in Northern California choice!
Keep reading for more information.
Determining Soil Health
If you’ve been using the same soil for multiple growing seasons without making amendments or adding any extra organic material, chances are, it is lacking nutrients. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell this simply by looking at or feeling the dirt.
Attempting to enrich soil without knowing what’s missing from it can be like baking a cake without a recipe – you have a general idea of what’s needed but aren’t sure of the exact ingredients or quantities.
To determine exactly what your soil needs to give you the best growing environment possible, you will want to run a soil test or analysis. Yearly soil testing can help you identify whether your soil is too acidic or alkaline and may also help you learn of any deficiencies.
Often, you can obtain an inexpensive soil test through your county extension office or you may choose to purchase one at your favorite outdoor supply store.
Picking a Cover Crop
The purpose of a cover crop is to protect the surface of your soil by slowing erosion caused by rainwater runoff. Over time, cover crops will add biomass to your soil and increase organic matter.
By adding to your soil’s biomass and organic matter, it will create a friendly environment for microorganisms. These microorganisms release and return nutrients, like carbon and nitrogen, into the soil for your crops to use.
Cover crops – also known as green manure – may include beans, peas, clover, oats, annual ryegrass, rapeseed, buckwheat, turnips, and winter rye. Although many cover crops are edible, they aren’t meant to be consumed by humans. Instead, they should be cycled back into the soil to continue providing nutrients (but a small snack never hurt!)
Add Organic Matter
When you’re looking to increase nutrients in the soil, adding organic matter is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this task. Organic matter consists of decomposing plant and animal remains. It may be in the form of compost, leaf mold or humus, manure, or sphagnum peat moss.
You may also choose to top your soil with mulch, which will increase organic matter as it decays. Mulch can also help to protect your soil from erosion as well as add texture.
Although you may choose to form your own compost pile, the process does require time, effort, and consistency. Additionally, your compost pile may not yield the amount of material you need which could be discouraging.
If you’d like to avoid this hassle or would like to supplement your existing compost materials, purchasing compost soil is a great option. When you choose to buy any type of soil (but especially one intended to increase organic matter,) be sure that you purchase through a company that you trust such as Sequoia Soil.
Ideally, any company that sells compost can show you the screening results, certifying that the material is actually organic and safe to use on your farm or in your garden.
Stay Out of the Weeds
Finally, one of the best ways to help put nutrients back into the soil is to prevent weeds from depleting resources in the first place. As weeds grow, they tend to use any existing nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen; they may also make your soil become too acidic or alkaline over time.
This means that you’ll want to take care in the fall to kill and remove any existing weeds either by pulling them from their root or smothering them with organic material. Deciding to smother weeds in the fall will also help to return any missing nutrients before planting season begins.
If you would like to learn more about how different types of soil can impact your farm’s growing ability or would like to purchase bulk compost in Northern California from a trusted company, use our contact form to send us a message. We’d love to help you grow your biggest crop yet by helping you put nutrients back into your soil!