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Soil preparation

 

The soil will have to be loosened prior to planting. If the soil has a low pH, it would be advisable to lime it immediately before planting; if the pH is too high, it can be reduced by adding peat litter to the soil.

Improving the soil and increasing its organic level can be accomplished by adding organic fertilisers such as compost and manure.

- Manure
Manure contains somewhat more nutrients than compost, and, like compost, it maintains soil structure and the biodiversity of the soil. Manure is available in fresh, granulate and powder forms. Packaged manure is usually cow manure, but chicken manure is sometimes added. The packaging indicates how much manure to use.

Fresh manure does not release its nutrients immediately but needs some time to decompose. The use of stable manure at least one year old is preferable; fresh cow manure contains ammonia that can “burn” the leaves of plants.

When planting in clay soil, it is best to apply manure in the autumn; in gardens with sandy soil, an application in early spring (March) is best. Fresh manure should be spaded under shallowly (not more than 10 to 15 cm. /4-5 inches deep).

Manure is a very good choice for applying to new planting sites.

- Compost
Compost is the best choice for both fertilizing and improving the soil. It introduces nutrients into the soil, improves soil structure, and maintains a healthy biodiversity in the soil. This gives plants more resistance to harmful bacteria and fungi.

Compost makes sandy soil easier to work and more water-retentive. Soil with a high clay content is made easier to work and more air-permeable when one part compost and one part sand are worked into it. Actually, compost is a better soil-improving agent than manure. It ensures a balanced development of bacterial organisms in the soil.

Too much compost is not beneficial; an exceedingly high concentration of compost near the roots could possibly burn them. A thin layer of compost can be applied to borders and lawns once a year in March or April (or in the autumn for heavy clay soils).