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Friday, February 8, 2013

Soils: the key to healthy native (and other) plants

Soil is truly a garden’s foundation. Plants obtain water and many nutrients from the soil – and interact with soil organisms. Soil conditions may also limit the types of plants you can grow successfully. The more you know about the characteristics of your soil, the better you can match plants and watering methods to your unique soil conditions.

Urban soils – including those in our gardens - are more complex than native soils. In fact, urban soils are among the most difficult to classify – and work with – of any soils world-wide.  Learn more at

Because soil is so important, it pays to take a little time to get to know your soil’s characteristics. Fortunately, there are several easy, inexpensive soil tests that can tell you a lot about your soil.  For more on soil testing:

A visit to the local gardening center can be a confusing experience; there are so many different soil amendment products available! All of them cost money and require time and effort to use. So, what’s a sensible approach to soil amendments and fertilizers?   See:

A soil perc test tells you whether your soil drains quickly, slowly or somewhere in between. Depending on your results, you may decide to select appropriate plants based on their drainage needs. Alternatively, you may choose to alter the drainage of parts of your garden. As always, your gardening choices are unique to your own situation.   For more about working with and improving soil drainage see:

A soil in good condition for growing crops, garden vegetables and other plants is said to have ‘good tilth’. It has the proper soil structure and nutrients to support healthy plant growth. Good farmers and gardeners aspire to have soil with good tilth.  To learn more about soil tilth and the soil ecosystem see:

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