Oxygen and moisture in soil is essential when it comes to producing healthy plants. To much water for long periods of time will disturb the balance of oxygen that is necessary for healthy root growth. Without oxygen, plants will most likely drown. Ideally, a well-draining soil is made up of sand, clay and organic matter. Poor soil can easily be corrected over time, with amendments, although it is important to fist determine what type of soil you are working with.
Different soil types:
Sandy soil - has large particles and will drain easily, not retaining the nutrients plants need. Sandy soil is composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles and has a grainy texture.
Clay soil - holds in too much moisture, not allowing oxygen to enter it's small, compacted particles. This makes it difficult for plant roots to penetrate into it.
Good garden soil - is light weight, allowing for easy air and water movement. Good soil have a fine texture of that between sandy and clay.
Organic matter - is plant or animal material that is capable of decomposition. Organic matter is important in soil because it encourages beneficial microbial activity and provides proper nutrients for plants. It helps sandy soil by retaining water that would otherwise be washed away. It also corrects clay soil, making it loser so air, water and plants roots can penetrate deeply.
An easy way to improve soil quality, is to add organic matter to it. Material such as, aged leaves, seasoned manure, peat moss, kitchen scraps, plant debris and shredded bark.
Prepare the bed by digging up the existing soil to at least a depth of 12 inches. Break up the loosened soil with a the shovel or garden fork. Add in an organic substance and mix it well with the existing soil. A good ratio of existing soil to organic matter is roughly 50:50.
By Dannielle Doyle
Both compost and mulch are composed of organic matter and both play a role in your gardening endeavors, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of each. COMPOST VS MULCH: A COMPARISON