Give your soil a checkup to ensure a healthy garden - HMS National, Inc.

Give your soil a checkup to ensure a healthy garden

June 12, 2014

It's easy to tell when the plants in your garden are unhealthy: wilted leaves, small yields and aphid holes are sure signs. Determining soil health is a lot harder. Some indicators of soil health are invisible and most are hidden underground. But there are a few simple things you can look for to quickly check the state of your soil.

The Dalles Chronicle in Oregon reported that one of the most common problems with home gardens is the soil's pH level. A neutral pH is best to ensure that the nutrients your plants need are available. Levels of pH can fluctuate based on many factors, but it's easy to test with kits commonly available at stores that sell lawn care products.

According to the USDA, one of the most important ingredients for soil health is organic matter. The plants in your garden themselves provide a lot of organic matter to the soil, but they need a good level of it initially to kick off the process.

Another great source of organic matter is earthworms. As they cast off dead cells throughout their lives, they provide carbon for plants and other organisms to eat. Most of the organisms that live in soil are too small to see with the naked eye, but the presence of earthworms and fungi are signs of good health. 

You can't move earthworms and fungi into the neighborhood, but you can make your garden a better home for them. Adding manure or compost will boost organic matter, and avoiding over tilling the soil will keep matter already present from decomposing too quickly. A good mix of plants can also ensure that you're supplying your plants and the critters they rely on with a diverse menu.

The information in these articles is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.