Want fabulous plants? You need healthy soil. While garden soil will never be glamorous, it is the foundation for our gardens. What you can see going on with your roses above the ground is largely determined by what goes on beneath your feet that is all but invisible to you. The conditions the roots of your roses encounter in the soil will determine whether they thrive or merely survive.
Does your existing garden have dirt or soil? Soil is a vibrant microcosm of life and activity. Dirt is dead. It’s disassociated from its ecosystem, and lacks the nutrients needed to promote plant growth.
Before you start making any changes or additions to your garden soil, it is important to understand your current soil and conditions – otherwise you may just be wasting your time and money. The main things you want to know about your soil are the texture, structure, pH, macro nutrient levels and drainage. Texture is the proportion of sand, silt and clay particles that make it up. The structure relates to how the particles are held together, or clump together into crumbs or clods. The pH is how acidic or basic the soil is, and drainage – whether water drains freely from the soil, sits stubbornly in place or somewhere in between. The concentration of the macro nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, can change during the growing season. Each of these parameters are important in the health of the soil and its effective delivery of needed nutrients to your roses.
A simple physical test can help you figure out your soil texture, you can purchase inexpensive test kits to confirm the soil’s pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels, and drainage is easy to evaluate – just dig a hole, fill it with water and time how long it takes drain completely. Once you are equipped with the information about your existing soil, you’ll be able to determine what you may want to change or improve.