Written by Wendy Ball
Posted in Inspiration
Spring has sprung, and thanks to this annual environmental alarm clock, your plants are well and truly awake! After a lengthy sleep, they are ravenous, and ready for action and growth. During this season your plants will draw heavily on the nutrients embedded in the soil. Awareness of soil composition and important nutrients help stimulate a delightful and flourishing garden.
What does your soil need in order to facilitate your plants’ growth and health?
I like to imagine soil as the ‘gut’ or digestive system of the garden.
We each acquire awareness of the health benefits in caring for the microflora in our own digestive tracts, primarily through a balanced diet. Soils are similarly complex. They contain a plethora of micro-organisms which need a balanced diet, occasional supplements including proactive care and attention.
I also envisage soil as the ‘living bank’ of nutrients. Imagine your plants being able to ‘tap and go’, drawing down from the soil depending on what they need in their growth cycle. This is about the soil balance or the ‘ledger’including: nutrients, elements, organic materials, soil pH and moisture content.
Whatever metaphor works for you, taking time to care, feed and boost your garden soil will produce results! The miracle of plant life is about the multiplication of cells and a maturing reproductive form through a complex interaction of elements and organic matter. Thankfully for us, it’s about providing the plant with what it needs by caring for the soil.
Soil Food Elements
There are three key chemical elements necessary for plant growth; Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.(NPK for those who like abbreviations).
Among these naturally occurring organic chemicals, Nitrogen is the most important.If Spring was akin to a marathon growth season, Nitrogen is the carbohydrate and we need to ‘carb-load’ our soil for the long haul growing season. Plentiful and sustained supplies of Nitrogen, will get plants to the finish line with lush beautiful growth.
Similarly, to our own dietary needs, a balanced soil diet is essential.
What does a balanced diet for your soil and plants look like?
Generally, plants are not fussy about the form of nutrients – either organic or inorganic; they are opportunistic and adaptable. Environmental sustainability or care motivates most gardeners to opt for organic options or solutions for long-term soil life and ecological health.
Great basic fertilizers for your soil are:
- Any organic complete fertiliser
- Blood and bone, plus potassium
- Decomposed Manure, plus potassium
Potassium (in the form of potassium sulphate, wood ash or seaweed extract) needs to be added to supplement Blood and Bone and manures to supply all three macro-nutrients to your soil and plants.
Store-bought organic fertilizers also have appropriate nutritional ratios, with additional trace elements.
There is good soil and there is great soil! Apart from the basic nutrients already outlined, the following additions and options will substantially boost health and growth for your plants. These supplements are extraordinary organic additions that should feature in your soil resource kit….
- Decomposed Manure
- Seaweed liquid additives
- Worm farm by-products
These nutrients and supplements must be applied with appropriate moisture to your soil, water them in well.
Soil Hydration and Protection
The micro-flora of your soil need moisture as much as the plants.
Every garden needs mulching. Mulch retains moisture for your plants and keeps your soil active and alive. So, after caring for the nutrition of your soil, protect it with an organic mulch. Think of it as UV protection.
Well, there is a veritable jungle beneath the surface of your garden!
Incredible and amazing processes take place there, which enable the plant root surfaces to either struggle or flourish. * Getting in touch with soil science and appreciating the processes involved helps us care for our gardens and assists in our plant’s growth and health. Replenishing and tending your soil is an act of kindness to your plants. They will reward you by flourishing.
Happy soil, happy plants!
*Plants “utilize a plethora of sophisticated mechanisms in an attempt to acquire sufficient amounts of the macro- and micronutrients required for proper growth, development and reproduction.”
A word from our clients
"Wendy’s garden design has completely changed our lives. She has transformed our garden into an area of peace and relaxation. We now spend hours being outside enjoying the views she has created and also watching the wildlife that now regularly visit. The garden is beautiful whilst being low maintenance and gardening is also now a pleasure rather than a chore."
– Rolly & Kes, Epping North
"Wendy is creative, thorough and really takes the time to understand the client’s needs and is able to transform their ideas into practical and well-suited garden designs. I never hesitate to recommend Wendy’s services to clients. From a contractor’s point of view, I really love working on anything designed by Wendy! Her designs are well thought out, practical, interesting, and achievable! Easy to read, easy to interpret, easy to bring to life!"
– Dan, DSE Landscapes Pty Ltd
“We are delighted to recommend Embrace Landscape Design. Our block presented some particular difficulties, being steeply sloping and rocky. Wendy developed a design that complimented the natural bush setting with attractive planting and architectural elements. Her design worked within our budget and gave us a garden that has continued to grow in beauty since it was established. We have been complimented on its design many times and it has flourished through all weather conditions. Wendy’s advice throughout the process of building our garden was invaluable.”
– Scott & Suzanne Stanton, Menai
"I have had the opportunity to construct four landscape projects designed by Wendy Ball; two residential and two in a commercial setting. They included a combination of soft planting and hard landscape elements such as paved spaces, pergolas and arbours, large shade structures, pathways, water features and private reflective spaces. Wendy‘s creative capacity transformed dull spaces into something very special. As a builder, it was a pleasure to work with a landscape designer who had a pragmatic and flexible approach to resolving the inevitable challenges that arise during construction."
– Peter Cipollone, Builder
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– Daniel & Catherine, Illawong