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Soil Fertility - the Essentials

WA's ancient soils are devoid of many nutrients, and present a great challenge to gardeners.  If you have ever tried growing in gutless Bassendean black sand you will be painfully aware just how hard it is.  Similarly, those on heavy clay soils which just about break a shovel if you attempt to dig in it over summer can tell heartbreaking stories of gardening failure!   

In both cases, adding organic matter is vital to improve soil structure.  This means using compost, aged manures, straw, etc.  Organic matter helps retain moisture, and encourages microbial activity which in turn makes nutrients available to plants.

Sandy soils benefit hugely from adding clay - bentonite or a product that contains bentonite will vastly improve soil structure, and overcome water repellency problems.  The clay acts as a sponge, bonding with sand particles and making the soil much easier to re-wet.  (See our Sand Remedy page for more information.)

Clay soils are often improved by adding gypsum.  This helps to break the bonds between clay particles and allows improved water and root penetration.  Some soils aren't altered by adding gypsum - see our Minerals and fertilisers page for how to conduct a simple experiment to check for yourself.

Many gardeners are already aware of the benefits of using compost and manure to feed their soil.  Often these provide the "macro nutrients" of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium essential for healthy plant growth.  These nutrients (N:P:K) are vital for the following reasons:  

Nitrogen assists with leaf growth and chlorophyll production, Phosphorous is important for root growth and development, and Potassium is vital for healthy cell strength (making plants more resistant to pests and disease), and encourages fruiting & flowering.  These elements are also vital in many more subtle processes of plant growth and health.  

If you are growing vegetables to eat, you also need to consider adding trace elements.  These are needed in tiny amounts, but are essential in many functions of plant growth.  Likewise they play a huge part in our own healthy biological functioning.

Perth soils are particularly deficient in selenium and cobalt.  To ensure these and other trace elements are included in your diet, adding minerals to the soil is necessary.  A quality Rock Dust added to soil is a natural & slow release way to introduce these minerals.  (Trace elements are also available in a soluble form, however leaching can be a problem.) 

Rock Dust is exactly that - a variety of rock types containing a range of minerals; crushed to enable breakdown by soil microbes.  Adding Rock Dust to your compost is also a great idea.

Soil fertility can also be greatly impacted by pH levels.  See our fact sheet on PH for more details. 

Budget bags of blended sheep & cow manure, and certified organic compost are available on our online shop.  We also carry a range of garden supplies and organic garden products.

Our range of soil mixes and soil improvers (which we make on site) are especially blended with top quality organic content, minerals, trace elements and beneficial microbes to suit nutritional needs of various plants.  Available bulk or bagged.  Contact us to discuss your requirements.

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© Green Life Soil Co, 166 Wilson Road, Middle Swan, Perth, WA (ABN: 56 509 847 119) - Tel: 08 9250 4575 - Try Sand Remedy, turns Sand into Soil, Naturally!