When one has learned something about what causes plants to develop, both in terms of what makes them healthy in some environments and what makes them ill in others, one might anticipate having better success with plants.
Many individuals are under the impression that boosting soil fertility simply entails adding to it chemical components that are already present in plants and are required for their survival. This is just a very tiny portion of the whole thing.
Water is the first thing that is required for plant growth. In order to create one pound of dry matter, plants need around 300 pounds of water. That is to say, in order to manufacture one pound of solid matter, whether it be timber from the forest, hay from the field, or wheat from the field, it required three hundred pounds of water to keep the plant alive while it was making this one pound of solid stuff. Plants do not consume any food but instead simply sip water. In order for the plant’s microscopic fiber roots to transport the food into the plant’s chemical laboratory, the food must first be dissolved in a very dilute solution. The leaves let the surplus moisture to escape while simultaneously keeping the things that are necessary for them to continue living. Even after the fiber roots, which are the component of the plant responsible for absorption of nutrients, have taken the solution up, the solution must still be in liquid form for it to be able to circulate.
Since plants are composed of water in proportions ranging from seventy to ninety percent, it stands to reason that the water they need should be replaced on a regular basis. Even if the conditions for fertility are there in the desert, the land itself is infertile. Vegetation will begin to come to life as soon as water is made available.
On the other hand, marshes are environments that have an abundance of water, temperatures that are just right, and a favorable climate; nevertheless, some types of plants are unable to flourish there because they lack certain other components.
Let’s say, for example, that we’ve managed to strike the perfect balance between all of the factors that contribute to fertility. What further processes take place in the soil to bring about the development of the plant’s stalk, leaves, and flowers?
There are an infinite number of workers in your garden, and they are toiling away for you day and night, enhancing the soil, and making it possible for all plant life to exist. These creatures are so little that 25,000 of them could fit in a row that would only take up an inch of space.
The majority of these bacteria may be found thriving in the humus, which is comprised of decomposing organic matter found in the soil. If there is a lack of humus, then there will be a shortage of bacteria. When there is just 2% or 3% moisture, the growth of bacteria stops increasing, and the rise is most noticeable when there is between 25 and 40 percent. In addition, warmth is required, and researchers have shown that the number of bacteria dramatically increases after a warm summer rain.
This friendly army is able to produce spores, which acts as a way of self-preservation when faced with challenging situations. These spores are sometimes referred to as the seed. To put it another way, a spore is a young plant that has protected itself by encasing itself in a kind of armor, a hard cell, or a wall in order to sustain its own existence for an extended period of time under unfavorable conditions. When the circumstances are once again favorable, this shell will crack open, and the bacteria will proceed to proliferate as they normally would.
These spores have been dormant throughout the winter in our gardens, and they are simply anticipating the warmth of the light and the wetness of the spring in order to become active again. Because of this, the quality of our soil is a very significant factor. In the case of sand, very little water is trapped inside it, and the circulation of air is rather unrestricted. Because of the high rate of evaporation and the ease with which water may move to the lower levels of the soil, it is almost difficult to maintain a viable population of bacteria under these circumstances. Again, there is the fine-grained soil, also known as clay, which is very dense and lacks almost any room for the movement of air. As a result, bacterial life is suffocated in this kind of soil.
Because of this, it is essential to make it feasible for water to enter the soil in such a way that part of it may be kept for an extended amount of time. This will allow water to be used by plants over a longer period of time. It is essential that the water be allowed to pass through the soil and move away from the plants, since having too much water is just as detrimental as having too little. Drainage is the term for this process. Sand and clay are two very different types of soil, but when combined, they may provide an ideal drainage medium. This can be accomplished by combining the two types of soil and allowing one to compensate for the shortcomings of the other. After that, a suitable quantity of organic material, also known as humus, should be added to the mixture in order to produce the best soil possible for the majority of plant species.
Your garden should be composed of excellent garden loam, which is comprised of around 20% sand, 40% clay, and 40% humus, which is decomposing plant matter. You may incorporate this humus into your soil by adding manure, peat moss, leaf mold, or compost that you make at yourself. Sand is necessary for drainage, and humus is necessary for conditioning the soil if it is mostly clay. Clay soil tends to get sticky when it is wet and has a propensity to bake and fracture. If the soil is sandy and water evaporates quickly from it, it has to be amended with humus and clay so that the water may be retained in the soil where it can be used by the plant.
Water is necessary for plant life, but it must be available in the soil in a state that is absorbable by the plants in order for there to be plant life. It must be kept in the teeny-tiny crevices in between the soil particles in order for it to be accessible; more specifically, it must create a thin film surrounding each particle. However, for the majority of plants, having too much moisture is just as bad as having too little. Some plant species are able to survive in water, but this requires a unique adaptation on their part. On land, an overabundance of water surrounding the soil particles locks out the air that plant roots need to get; it limits the development and activity of bacteria; and it may dissolve and wash away vital plant food. All of these problems are caused by the fact that water surrounds soil particles. Because of these factors, it is necessary to reshape the soil in order to eliminate excess moisture.
When it rains, water that is absorbed by the soil eventually seeps either vertically or horizontally through the permeable soil and toward lower levels. When water encounters a layer of rock, hardpan, shale, or clay that is either completely impermeable or just slightly porous, the flow of water is either halted or significantly slowed down. A spring is formed when water accumulates on top of an impermeable layer, then flows down the slope to a lower elevation where it emerges from the ground.
To a significant part, the types of plants that will be able to grow on the land and how effectively they will grow are determined by the depth of the developing soil that lies above this layer. It is essential to pay attention to both surface runoff and sub-drainage in order to prevent excess water from pooling on the surface of the soil and ensure that water is able to percolate through the growing layer.
Plant roots will not penetrate soil that is too wet, therefore drainage is necessary for numerous reasons, but the primary and most essential one is that it allows water to drain away. To successfully complete the processes of root development and feeding, almost all cultivated plants need oxygen to be present in the soil.
In areas of land where the water table is relatively near to the surface of the ground, the developing layer is too shallow to permit the deep rooting that is essential for good plant development. Deep rooting is important for healthy plant growth. When it rains in the spring over dense soil that has a relatively deep growth area in the summer, the water does not percolate as quickly as it should, which causes the water table to become temporarily elevated.
The shallow root systems that plants are able to form in the spring are unable to access water during the dry spells that occur throughout the summer months in any of these scenarios.
It is possible to lift plants above a landscape that is somewhat damp by mounding the soil into beds. This is an effective method. It is recommended that you cultivate your garden on raised beds if the soil in your yard has poor drainage, and this is especially true if the soil is heavy clay. Because the surface of the soil in these beds is elevated compared to the soil in the surrounding area, drainage is enhanced. In addition to these benefits, raised beds help to demarcate an area, put a stop to trespassing feet, and simplify the process of weeding and harvesting. They can also be designed in such a way that makes them accessible to people who use wheelchairs or who have other kinds of accessibility issues.
If drainage is not an issue, you can make a raised bed by simply piling soil higher than the surrounding area, flattening it, and giving the area a slight slope on the edges. This will allow water to drain away from the bed more effectively. Make a bed with a layer of gravel on the bottom, a layer of rough peat, sand, and gravel on top of that, and a topping of loose compost with some of the native soil mixed in. This will give the bed more permanence and will improve the drainage. This is all contained by a timber or brick wall.
The best height for a raised bed is between 8″ and 24″. Much higher than 3 feet and you’ll need foundations for the retaining wall so it can support the weight of the soil. Keep the width under 5ft so you can reach in to weed and harvest the center.
For persons in a wheelchair, a bed may be elevated on concrete or wooden supports, like a huge sink with drainage holes, and should be at least 6″ deep (deeper if there are severe winds) (deeper if there are strong winds). Most herbs may thrive in such a bed, but the moisture-lovers such as mint and sweet cicely will require regular watering. If feasible, limit them to a bed next to the water supply.