Soil is a lot like the human gut. Fuel in the form of leaves and manure lands on the surface of the soil and various organisms break it down into smaller, more digestible parts- much like our stomachs.
The microbes in the soil (often with the help of fungi) then do their microscopic work converting these partially digested matter into food for themselves. What is left behind from this process are nutrients in a form plants can use for food and particles that add necessary texture to soil. Here at ServeScape, we offer a Soil Essentials Collection that celebrates the natural wonders of soils, and the many uses for landscape and garden use.
Gardening is a very human imitation to what nature does. We take plants we find attractive or delicious and do our best to make them feel at home where we can enjoy them easily. More often than not, the soil around our homes has been stripped of topsoil (making a nice, stable footing for our houses) and the subsoil left behind has been compacted by foot traffic and machinery.
A lot of well-intentioned people have purchased and spread a lot of fertilizer in an effort to feed plants in their landscapes. Ever wonder what the numbers on the bag mean (N-P-K)? Here’s a way to remember: Up-Down-All Around
The first number is the percentage of Nitrogen- which stimulates mostly the growth of leaves- stuff that grows Up.
The second number is the percentage of Phosphorus- which stimulates the growth of roots- which grow Down.
The third number is the percentage of Potassium- which provides nutrition for blooms, fruit and All Around plant health.
Here’s the tricky part- how do determine how much of each element your plant needs? If you want to get it right, send a sample of the soil near the root area (about one cup), and take it to your local UGA Cooperative Extension Service office to have it analyzed (they have sample bags and will charge you a nominal lab fee). The report will spell out the levels of various nutrients already present in the soil, and give you a recommendation of what to add.
Here’s the trickier part- soil that has been fertilized over and over and over can experience a buildup of certain nutrients that can block the uptake of other nutrients. Essentially, over fertilization can have a toxic effect. This happens because various nutrients move through the soil at different rates.
For instance, Phosphorus (the middle number) is used slowly by plants and can build up over time. Nitrogen (the first number) is taken up quickly. When there’s too much Phosphorus, it blocks the uptake of Nitrogen. This is why it’s important to use the right fertilizer for your soil needs.
A MUCH easier way to care for you plants is to add compost. Composting is a process that mimics the way fuel is broken down by natural processes. We humans can consolidate our peels, lawn clippings and raked leaves into a pile that accelerates action of microbes. When done in optimal conditions (in a sunny spot, turned every few days), the microbial action creates quite a bit of heat. It’s all very scientific and monitored when it’s done right.
If you don’t have the will or time to devote part of your life to the production of compost- you can always buy a bag from ServeScape. Barefoot Soils is a local company that uses organic materials throughout the process and produces powerful powdered Organic Compost Plus
Another undercover agent that produces great nutrition for plants is the humble earthworm. This tubular titan of terra firma is tirelessly pulling leaves under, digesting them and leaving behind “black gold” or worm castings.
Again - you could set up an earthworm farm and harvest the castings over time OR you could simply purchase a bag of Mr. Natural’s Worm Castings. That same ingredient is also part of two specialized soils available from Mr. Natural: Certified Landscape Mix (for sunny beds) and Woodland Soil Mix (for beds in shade).
ServeScape loves to partner with companies and organizations that make it their mission to provide the best in soil and soil nutrition. Let us deliver the good stuff to you! Check out our Soil Essentials Collection for the full list of products.