Soil is an incredibly complex mix of animal, vegetable and mineral. The relationship between soil bacteria, parent material (sandstone, granite, basalt), pH, soil structure, salinity and nutrition are all factors that affect soils and plants. Caring for you soil involves actively encouraging microbial activity, which will affect the way roots are able to uptake the food and water they need.
Plant growth, nutrient availability and microbial activity are affected by soil pH. pH is measured from 1 (acid) to 14 (alkaline) but for soils the preferable range is from 5.5 – to 8. If you’re unsure what your pH is, you can bring your soil in for testing, or buy a pH testing kit at Eden.
We also sell products that will make your soil more acid, such as manure and powdered sulphur, or more alkaline, such as dolomite or agricultural lime. Alternatively, plant shrubs that naturally grow in your soil. For example, choose acid loving plants such as hydrangeas, camellias, azaleas, Pieris, gardenias, heather and blueberries if your soil has a low pH, or olives, rosemary, lavender, Convolulus cneorum, Echiums, Oleander, Abelia and Oyster plants if you have a high pH. Most fruit trees and vegetables like to grow in a neutral to slightly acid pH environment.
If you’re losing soil from erosion, either washing away or being blown off site, you need to start planting as soon as you can. Vegetation cover, principally using ground covers that bind the soil, is the most critical factor in the protection of soils from water and wind erosion. Natives include Goodenia, Casuarina ‘Cousin It’, ground hugging grevilleas like Grevillea ‘Bronze Rambler, Scaevola, Hardenbegia and Hibbertia. Ornamental grasses, such as Dianella and Lomandra are good choices too, and will quickly form soil hugging root balls. Mulch will also help stabilise your soil while plants establish.
Incorporating organic matter into clay soils structure as it acts like glue, binding the finer particles together to form ‘peds’. The addition of gypsum can also improve many clay soils. Many plants grow in clay soils naturally. Australian natives that work well include paper barks (Melaleucas), lily pillies, bottlebrushes, Lomandra, tea tree and Scaevola.
Sandy soil Solutions
Choose plants that grow easily in sandy soils. Australian natives are perfect choices for low nutrient, really well drained sites. If you prefer exotics, try lavender, rosemary, Hebes, Coprosma, Pittosporum.
If you want to improve your soil, add water–aiding products like Saturaid to help your soil store water for use in drier times. Adding organic matter like mushroom compost, worm castings or animal manure to your soil will also help build up its water holding capacity and the soil structure.