Healthy soil holds water for longer periods, allowing less frequent watering!
Water restrictions have been implemented across the country to reduce water demand by 15% to align with targets set by the Department of Water and Sanitation. Despite recent rains received in Gauteng which may see the water restrictions lifted, other provinces in the country in particular KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape still continue to have low dam levels and more serious measures may be implemented. This can place extra strain on your garden, especially with the above-average temperatures currently being experienced across the country. By understanding your soil you can improve its condition to aid in absorption of water and retaining of nutrients for plants to survive.
How to identify your soil type
- Take some soil in your hand, moisten it and form it into a ball, squeeze the hand to form a fist.
- If the soil is sandy, the ball will break into pieces. Sandy soil does not hold water well as it filters through too quickly, therefore plants will need water more frequently.
- If the soil is clay, the ball will form a ribbon. Plants in clay soil will need to be watered in small amounts frequently.
- If the soil is loam, the ball will remain intact although slightly spongy. Loam soil can hold water well, allow for air circulate and drain well.
Tips to improve your soil to a loamy texture
- Add one third of organic matter like compost, manure, fallen and dried leaves as well as vegetable waste to improve soil condition. This should be dug into the soil at a spade depth.
- Apply a layer of organic mulch above the soil to conserve moisture into the soil and prevent evaporation.
Remember, plants absorb water through the roots therefore the soil condition is important to plant health. Soil with a high organic content acts like glue, holding soil particles together, creating larger pore spaces needed for oxygen and water exchange. By improving the organic content of the soil it increases its water holding capacity. As a result watering will be less frequent helping you to save water!