Busting the 3 biggest myths about garden soil
Because soil is like the unruly ocean our plants sail in, there are several myths that have developed around it. These myths are not only based on falsehoods but they often lead people to spend more time, energy and money than they need to.
Let’s take a look and debunk the 3 biggest myths about garden soil. If you want to be a better gardener then make sure you ignore these myths!
Myth 1: There’s no difference between synthetic and organic fertilisers
This is false because the fact is that organic fertilisers release their nutrients to plants slowly. Nutrients like soybean meal are made soluble by micro-organisms that live in the soil and they do this more quickly the hotter and wetter the soil is.
Organic fertilisers contain many more beneficial nutrients compared to synthetic ones. The nutrients that synthetic fertilisers do contain are not always needed by the plant, meaning they sit in the soil until they are needed and this can cause problems if rain causes contamination of surface and ground water.
Myth 2: High carbon mulch materials starve plants of nitrogen
The truth is that plants are only deprived nitrogen when high carbon materials are mixed into the soil, not when laid out on top as mulch. The aforementioned soil micro-organisms need both nitrogen and carbon in order to survive, when high carbon materials enter the soil the nitrogen needs to be balanced out naturally.
When high carbon materials are placed on-top of the soil as mulch they take a very long time to break down. This process happens so slowly that that all of the nitrogen eaten up by micro-organisms is offset by the amount that gets released into the soil and is accessible by plants.
Myth 3: Soil drainage is improved by a coarse layer in the soil
Actually this is entirely the opposite; a tough layer of gravel in the soil will make drainage worse. While this advice has been passed through many generations of gardeners it’s actually has no basis in fact, all a course layer will do is cause water to pool above it.
Don’t follow this advice and instead simply fill up the holes with soil like you would normally. At the bottom of flower pots a little bit of screening can be useful to stop the soil from washing through the hole, but anything more than that will only work to impede the natural drainage.