February 1, 2012

Cultivate your soil for a flourishing garden

Just like any living organism, the earth in your garden needs to breathe. Tilling – or soil cultivation – is imperative to achieve a healthy garden. Here’s how to do it.
With time the soil underneath your garden lawn or in your flowerbeds will become less healthy. Soils under adverse conditions may become compacted, that is, the soil loses its structure. The little pockets of air beneath the surface are squeezed together. Water and nutrients no longer move through the soil. It becomes more difficult for roots to grow. This makes it harder for plants to flourish.

“No soil is ever so good that it can’t be improved further. By working with it and improving it you can ensure your plants and lawn get enough oxygen and water”, says Tomas Welin, Product Manager Petrol Wheeled at Husqvarna.

This calls for soil cultivation, or tilling – basically digging in the dirt and the adding of nutrition or soil amendments in the form of mulch or humus to aerate the soil. When digging, there are a number of techniques to choose from.

Basic digging

Grab a shovel, dig away and turn over the soil and chop it up. Then, if necessary, add nutrients and humus to the soil before returning it.

Single digging

With single digging you efficiently cover the garden area to a uniform standard. Divide the area into strips then dig a small trench (about 25-30 centimetres wide, and a spade’s depth). Place the soil to the side, leaving the trench empty. Move to the next strip, lift the same amount of soil from this one and drop it in the first, breaking up clumps as you go. Continue on with this dig and move process until the entire garden has been worked. At the end, the final trench is filled with the soil that left from the first trench.

Surface cultivation

For soils that are not compacted, it may be enough with shallow cultivation. Here you use a tined-rake, or hoe and try not to disturb the soil's structure below about 5-8 centimetres deep.

When not to dig

If the soil is overly moist you should refrain from digging to avoid damaging the soil structure.

The ‘no-dig’ approach

If the soil is in good condition, digging is often not necessary. Mulching over the soil in layers of organic matter to a depth of 6-10 centimetres should be sufficient. At planting time, the mulch is raked away for planting and seed sowing.

Finally, remember that the key word is always “loose”. Your plants need minerals, air, water and organic substances to thrive and the best way to achieve this is to work the earth, turn the soil and add humus. 

There are many products that can help you improve flower beds, larger garden plots as well as lawns.

Associated images

Husqvarna tiller DRT900H

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