The structure, fertility, drainage and acidity (pH) of your soil all have an impact on the health of the plants. Knowing what type of soil you have and how to improve it will help you to create the best growing environment.
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Adding a Surface Mulch
Mulching is simply placing a layer of bulky organic matter or a plastic sheet over the soil surface. This practice is beneficial because it prevents moisture from evaporating from the soil surface, controls the soil temperature and inhibits the germination of weed seeds. Organic mulches are also drawn into the soil by earthworms, where they break down and improve the soil structure. Garden compost, well-rotted manure, spent mushroom compost and straw can all be used as mulch and should be applied in a generous layer around plants. Leave gaps around plant stems, though, otherwise rot can set in, and apply the mulch to moist soil because it is more difficult for water to penetrate the thick covering and wet dry soil.
Excerpted from Simple Steps: Vegetable Gardening
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2007
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