As we all know compost is nothing but decayed organic material used as fertilizer for growing plants. All plants require nutrients for healthy life. We have already discussed about the hazards of chemical fertilizers. Hence compost is the best way to provide plants with all the essential nutrients. We will now understand how does compost help in fixing/enhancing different types of soil.
We can correct any soil by adding compost to it.
Let’s take the example of clay soil. Clay soil has tightly bonded minute particles which do not allow air and water to penetrate very easily. By adding compost to the soil we can loosen the bondage of soil particles and allow air and water to penetrate very easily; thereby creating a perfect condition for plants to grow and flourish.
If loam contains more of sand and less of clay it can be corrected by adding compost whereby the compost provides all the vital nutrients required by plants and also helps in water retention.
Hence composting is one of the most important aspects of gardening.
I have been asked by many of my readers as to what is wrong with their plant because the
The plant does not have flowers or the flowers wither before blooming
The plant got infected or there are white spots visible on the plant
The plant looks unhealthy and is drying up very quickly
To solve the above problems we will have to first identify their causes:
Whenever you buy plants from any plant nursery/ seller, please understand that those plants have been supplemented with lots of chemical fertilizers. It is because of these chemical fertilizers that you see those wonderful flowers blooming and many a buds on the plant. The effect of these chemical fertilizers stays for about 1-3 months. Now what happens once you have bought these plants:
The chemical fertilizers have killed all the microbes present in the soil. The soil is now devoid of any nutrients.
To this plant you have not added any fertilizer/compost.
With no nutrients available, the plant first stops flowering. Then slowly it develops a weak immunity to resist pests and other diseases.
The plant either gets infected or it just dries up.
Once you have bought the plant, immediately while potting it, add Organic Compost to it. For initial 6 months keep adding compost, every month, to the soil. Once you have added organic compost for 6 months the soil has abundant supply of nutrients. You will see the plant flowering as well as being healthy. It will now have a very strong immune system and it will fight any pest on its own. You will not need any pesticide or insecticide. After 6 months you can add compost once in 2 months and then gradually after a year, once in 3 months. I sincerely request you, please do not use any chemical fertilizers for your plant!
I hope this answers your questions. If not, please do contact me here.
Silt is a very fertile soil mainly found near river banks. The soil particles of silt are smaller than sand and bigger than clay. It is one the best soils for any type of plantation. However silt is not easily available everywhere.
Loam (also known as Red Soil because of its red color) is a soil which is a perfect mix of Sand, Silt and Clay. The perfect Ratio is 40% Sand, 40% Silt and 20% clay. However the proportions differ and so does the soil properties. If the loam contains more of sand it is called as sandy loam or if it contains more of silt then it is called silty loam and likewise for clay loam. Loam being a mix of all the three is the most ideal soil for gardening.
Loam does not suffer any drawbacks of either clay or sand. The presence of sand allows air and water to penetrate easily. Clay helps in water retention and clay and silt both ensure ample supply of nutrients.
Synopsis: Loam does not create any Stress on the plant and is one of most ideal soils for gardening.
[Now you know why the Gardener always prefers red soil! The next time you visit the plant nursery do observe the soil!] 😉 🙂
Sandy soil is nothing but sand or soil composed mainly of sand. The color of sandy soil may differ from white to beige to golden brown. The sand particles are very distinguished and detached. They are not united with each other. As a result it is devoid of minerals (nutrients).
Now that we have understood the soil properties lets understand how the stress works.
Air: Air can easily penetrate through sandy soil because the sand particles are very detached. Hence there is no stress on the plant as far as air is concerned.
Water: Water percolates very easily through sand however Sand does not retain water. Hence the plant undergoes a big stress as far as water is concerned.
Nutrients: Sandy soil does not contain any vital nutrients required by plants. Hence this is a major stress factor.
Synopsis: Lack of nutrients and non-retention of water makes this soil almost useless for gardening.
The soil particles of clay soil (also called as black soil because of its color) are very minute and are tightly bonded to each other. So tightly are they attached to each other that it is difficult for both air and water to penetrate. Water percolates very slowly through the soil. Clay soil is a very fertile soil, full of minerals (nutrients).
Now that we have understood the soil properties lets understand how the stress works.
Air: As mentioned earlier the air penetrates very slowly through this soil. Hence inadequate supply of air causes a stress on plant.
Water: Water percolates very slowly through this soil. There is a high possibility of excess water clogging around the roots of the plants. Hence excessive water supply causes a stress on plant.
Nutrients: clay soil is one of most mineral-rich soil and plants receive ample of nutrients. There is no stress on plant as far as nutrients is concerned.
Synopsis: Clay soil creates two stresses on plants and hence is not the most ideal one. However these stresses can be corrected/removed with composting. We will study about it in detail in my upcoming posts.
Like any being on this planet, plants too have three major requirements:
All of the above should be available to the plant in the soil. I repeat, the SOIL should contain adequate amount of air, water and nutrients for the roots to absorb and grow.
Inadequacy of any of these leads to STRESS thereby resulting in a not-so-healthy plant. Hence it is a gardener’s prime duty to ensure that the plants receive all of these. This can be ensured only when one understands and studies the types of soil thoroughly.
Don’t worry!! I had assured you that I’ll not be using any technical terms nor will I get too deep into the technicalities! The following is a simplified version of soil study!
By Organic, I mean 0% use of any chemicals. Making our garden chemical-free. Chemicals are mainly used in fertilizers and pesticides.
I believe in going 100% natural i.e. organic. I will be explaining in detail about organic compost and composting techniques in my upcoming articles.
We will now understand what happens when we use chemical fertilizers:
Chemical fertilizers once mixed with the soil do give the desired output. However they destroy the microbial ecosystem (microbes and other organic life like insects and fungi) that live within the soil. With destruction of the organic life, the soil slowly turns impotent and becomes dependent on these chemical fertilizers forever.
From the plants’ perspective, growing in such chemically treated soil, the plants develop a very weak immune system and are not in a position to resist pests! They get affected immediately by the pests and diseases!! To protect such weak plants from pests they are further sprayed with hazardous chemical pesticides and insecticides. These pesticides along with killing the pests also kill the honeybees and other useful insects that help in pollination.
Going 100% organic is the first step towards sustainable living. With growing awareness, there are lot of organic manure and pesticide available in the market. We can easily use these instead of the chemical ones. In my upcoming articles, I’ll be discussing in detail about composting and fighting pests in an organic way!!
If you have any space in and around your house which receives sunlight for at least 3 hours in a day, is an ideal place to start.
A balcony/ open terrace/ window grill are ideal places to start!
space is never a constraint!
You can start your garden even if you have a space as small as this one
An open space like this which receives ample sunlight would be an ideal place!
If you do not have a space constraint, I would suggest you start with one or two Rose plants. Rose plants require a pot size of minimum 6 inches and a maximum of 10 inches. It is best to choose a Rose plant with strong stem formation. Rose is a sturdy perennial plant. It flowers throughout all seasons.
If you have a space constraint where in you cannot fit in big plants like Rose, I would suggest you to go for small flowering plants like Chrysanthemum and Marigold (dwarf variety) in a pot size of 3-4inches.
A Rose Plant with strong stem formation
A small Marigold Plant
Flowering plants are the best ones to start with as they require very low maintenance as well as they give us lot of scope to learn.
The plants need to be watered regularly (daily). Different plants have different water requirements. Excessive watering creates equal stress on a plant as inadequate watering. I will be discussing about different plant stresses in detail in my upcoming articles.
The most crucial and vital thing in gardening is your passion. Gardening is beyond the concept of entertainment (time-pass) or hobby. Your involvement with plants cannot be on a superficial level. They are living beings and just like your family members they need your attention and love more than food and water. You need to understand, respect and appreciate your plants only then can you call yourself a Gardener!!
Once you have passion, rest everything will look very minuscule. You require a space which receives ample of sunlight (at least 3 hours of sunlight in a day). You need to water the plants regularly (daily). And you need to maintain the plants with proper pruning and composting.
An ideal way to start is to buy one single plant and then every month go on adding different plants to your garden. Starting with just one plant gives you a lot of scope to observe the plant. With such a keen observation you are able to learn a lot of things about the plant. After all, gardening is learnt only through observations.
If it is your plant, it is your Baby. You will have to watch over it and enjoy its growing process. Its new leaves, its first bud, the flowering of the bud, the growth of a new stem. Everything counts.