Beginner gardening soil

When we start gardening, the soil is a key to success because it is a source of energy, nutrients, and moisture for a variety of plants. Besides, there are different types of soils and knowledge of them can help us to have a good harvest in the plot and nice plants in the pot.

Sandy, clay, silt, peat, and loam soil! What is the best? How to improve soil quality in our plot? How to make good soil for our houseplants? What is sphagnum? We’ll try to answer these questions and give some advice.

 So, let’s start!

In the plot

Sandy Soil

It includes a high content of sand, a small fraction of clay minerals and low content of humus. Sandy soil is easy to process, quickly eroded, well warm up but cool quickly, and does not hold moisture due to its grainy structure. A significant disadvantage of sandy soil is lacking in moisture and nutrients. This inevitably entails a lack of active and nutrient substances for plants. And we introduce the organic fertilizers more often, which become almost the only source of nutrition of plants. However, this does not always have the proper effect as fertilizers quickly decompose with water that easily enters the sandy soils.

Thus, plants have nutrients in a very limited amount. Nonetheless, the definition of sandy soils is not completely unambiguous, and a significant role in this is played by the ratio of sand and clay particles. They determine the degree of necessary impact on the soil for its improvement.

Improving sand soils

We need to introduce sealing and binding components such as peat, mud aggregates, clay, and rice flour, compost with humus in large quantities regularly to create a favorable biological environment habitat of soil microorganisms. It is necessary to often add fast-acting fertilizers and do it in small doses.

Clay Soil

It differs in high density and viscosity. Also, clay soil is sticky and hard to process. When digging, such soils do not crumble, but forms into balls that are very difficult to break. The tendency for adhesion is associated with an extremely small structure of solid particles, which leave little space among themselves. As a result of sealing, clay soils are characterized by poor air permeability. It limits the supply of oxygen to the roots of plants and microorganism, which lives in the soil. The lack of sufficient oxygen slows down the decomposition of organic matter into the final products of decay, which depletes the soil and deprives valuable nutrients for plants. It largely explains the poverty of biological life in clay soil.

The structural compression of some solid particles also affects such characteristics of the soil as water permeability. Clay soil badly passes water and does not form a developed capillary system, resulting in roots of plants hardly get the moisture necessary for their life. This soil does not pass it into the lower layers, when absorbs water. And water accumulates in the field of rooting of plants, which leads to stagnant phenomena and rotting of the root system. Another consequence of the compacted structure of the clay soil is its ‘watering’ during the rain. Water drops split small clay lumps into smaller components, which partially dissolve in the outgoing water, and even more densely bind solid particles of the soil.

When the ground dries after rain, clay soil is covered with a dense solid crust that prevents the penetration of air, light, and moisture to the roots of plants. The surface of clay soil breaks up and acquires an even denser structure and under the influence of the sun. We take into account the fact that clay soils are extremely rich in minerals and trace elements, but it should be noted that plants are not always able to grow in them. The root system of plants absorbs nutrients only in the dissolved form or as a product of microorganisms, but these processes are limited in clay soils due to poor water permeability and poor biological life. Clay soils are cool because they are slowly and poorly warmed up due to the density, and their extreme areas remain unheated.

Improving clay soil

The main measure to improve the quality of clay soil is to give them a loose, lumpy structure because of the regular introduction of loosening components such as coarse sand, peat, ash, lime. We use compost and manure to create a favorable nutrient and biological environment. The introduction of sand or sanding of clay soils at the rate of 30-40 kg / m2 significantly reduces the moisture content of clay soils, which contributes to increasing the thermal conductivity. After it, the clay soils dry up faster, warm up and become ready for planting. Clay soils are rich in minerals, but soil analysis can show the amount and type of necessary fertilizers.

Peat Soil

The color of most peat soils is dark, almost black, pleasing to inexperienced gardeners who consider it a sign of fertility. Peat soil is often transported to plots and introduced into the soil as valuable fertilizer. In fact, peat is not fertilizer at all. Peat soils are indeed fertile, but this is potential fertility. Nutrients for plants, in particular, the main ones are nitrogen, are in a bound condition and cannot be used by plants in these soils. Therefore, the cultivation of peat soil is not only to its drying but also to the enrichment of nutrients through organic and mineral fertilizers. Peat soil contains little potassium and critically less phosphorus. These soils are also characterized by good air and water permeability, but often excessive moisture content.

Peat soils are cool. They are very freezing in the winter, and in the spring warm up very slowly. That’s why we need to cover our land with snow to warm up it in winter and to remove it in the spring. Since structurally peat soils represent some sort of absorbent sponge, but also easily gives off the water, it is necessary to improve their structural composition, increasing the content of solid particles. Over time, peat soils turn into fertile soils, where we can get rich harvests of vegetables, fruits, and berries.

Improving peat soil

The main measures to improve this type of soil should be conducted in two directions. To normalize the process of processing organic matter, the result of which will be the release of nitrogen and transform it into a form accessible to plants, it is necessary to create conditions for the development of normal biological life of the soil. For this purpose in the soil, it is necessary to bring manure, compost, sawdust, apply microbiological preparations. A fine fertilizer is wood ash. The best is ash of hardwood species (birch) and sunflower. The second direction for improvement of peat soils is to increase the content of phosphorus and potassium in them in a form accessible for plants. For this purpose, when processing the soil should be fed phosphorus-potash fertilizers. It is recommended to make compost, a little clay flour, possibly coarse sand for creating a more porous laced structure of peat soils.

There is another way to increase soil fertility. It’s the cultivation of rain worms. They reprocess the compost, turning dry plant remains into the most valuable forms of humus. Scientists believe that our well-known black earth is created primarily by worms. The more rain worms will be on our land, the more valuable will be the harvest. How to increase the number of worms? We dig a ditch in the shadowy place, put half-dipped pus or dry leaves there and throw 100-150 worms. Cover them with the same substrate, and put on top of some tissue. Periodically moisten the nursery, warm up it for the winter. The plot will be full of worms, and the substrate will turn into good humus the next year. Next step, we scatter the worms across the area.

Silt Soil

This soil has some characteristics of sandy soils. But silt soil is favorable in all respects for growing plants, being an intermediate type of soil. It is breathable, has high water permeability, absorbs well and retains moisture. The soil is rich in minerals and nutrients and prevents them to be washed away from the ground. These soils are characterized by developed biological life. They have a favorable environment for the root and for development of the root system of plants. The good air permeability provides free access of oxygen to the soil, and a strong capillary system supplies the roots with moisture and nutrients. The surface of the silt soil dries quickly after moisture, does not form a crust and does not dry up to the level of rooting of plants. In addition, thanks to the loose structure, the soils quickly warm up and react flexibly to the difference between daytime and night temperatures.

Improving silt soil

As well as in the case of sandy soils, the regular application of peat has been recommended for better binding of solid ground particles. Also, it is recommended that manure and compost be introduced for autumn or in spring soil in to maintain a favorable biological environment of soil microorganisms. Mineral fertilizers should be added in small portions and often.

Loam Soil

Loam soil is the best! This soil is among the most favorable for horticulture and agriculture. Loam soil has the intermediate position between clay and clay soils, while it has the advantages of both types of soils and deprived of their extreme drawbacks. We can say that there is an optimum balance in this type of soil necessary for the successful cultivation of various plant species. The structure of loamy soils differs in granular lumpiness, and it contains fairly large solid particles of soil and dust-like components. These soils are easy to process because they do not form dense clumps. Loam soils are rich in minerals and elements. They contain many nutrients, which stock is constantly replenished through the activity of soil microorganisms and rich biological life. These soils are characterized by air and water permeability, well-kept moisture, quickly and uniformly warm up with the onset of heat. Also, they can maintain a constant temperature regime.

Improving loam soil

In order to maintain a supply of nutrients in loamy soils, it is recommended to introduce organic fertilizers, such as autumn compost or compost, which requires all types of soils without exception. Additional organic and mineral fertilizers should be introduced purposefully after the soil analysis and as necessary

In our pots

There is no universal soil for all types of plants, although the inscription ‘universal soil’ can be found on packages quite often. It is suitable only for plants with a simple root system. Therefore, it is not recommended buying for flowers that are sensitive to soil composition. And it’ll be easier to prepare the soil for our houseplants at home.

How to prepare potting soil?

The main criteria of the substrate of good quality are the maximum content of nutrients and good water permeability. Necessary components are peat, perlite, turf, humus, leaf, coniferous substrate, sphagnum, sand. If we make soil mixture at home, the first thing is to disinfect all its constituent parts. We need to warm all components in the oven at a temperature of 120 ° C. The composition of the mixture should not contain stones, chips, pieces of wood, glass fragments. Therefore, all parts of the substrate are recommended to sift carefully. If we want to enrich the mixture with various organic substances, substrates we’ll add a small amount of greenhouse soil, which is obtained from overgrown manure. It contains a high content of nutrients, the main role of which is to promote the rapid and healthy growth of plants.

We often add coarse-grained river sand to loosen the soil. In this case, the nutrient mixture becomes light and the root system of the plant receives sufficient air. This nuance plays a decisive role in the growing our houseplants. It is not hard to prepare the soil mixture when we have the necessary components – soil substrates.


The first component is peat. Thanks to the peat, we can improve the quality of the soil mixture, making it light and loose. It enables the root system to become strong and develop quickly. That is why we often grow the seeds and cuttings of the favorite flowers in this soil. For soil substrates suitable soft, loose peat of a homogeneous structure.


Perlite is practically neutral material. It is a mountain rock of volcanic origin. Perlite is added to the soil to 30%, making easier, breathable, loose mixture because it prevents soil compaction. The root system is well-developed in plants and the air exchange is not disturbed due to these


There is not any soil substrate without a turf ground. We can make it ourselves. The perfect composition consists of a meadow sod land. It is better to take the ground from the upper formation to prepare a soil mixture. This soil is enriched with nitrogen, which helps the plants to fully develop. This land can be found in a usual pasture or in the forest. Turf ground will help to prevent the rapid drying of the soil substrate. It is especially useful to add this soil in pots when we bring them on the balcony in the summer.


In most cases, we use greenhouse grass, which was obtained after cleaning greenhouses. It has a very valuable composition. This is a good fertilizer for plants. It is not easy to find, so we can buy biohumus ground in flower shops. The important thing is to buy a quality product, not a fake. Biohumus is manure processed by rain worms. It contains useful microorganisms and numerous organic substances. That’s why it is used to enrich the soil substrate.

Leaf ground

There is nothing complicated in the harvesting of this type of ground. The most qualitative leaf ground can be taken from under the hazel, maple, and linden. Oak and willow ground is not suitable for many houseplants, as it contains a lot of tannin. We can take the ground from any layer of the land in the old forest. In the young forest, the advantage should be given to the upper fertile soil layer. Leaf ground with sand is suitable for rooting of cuttings and growing seeds.

Coniferous substrate

This type of land is suitable for the cultivation of azaleas, orchids, begonias, and violets. This ground is considered poor, loose, and sour. Experienced florists choose only pure coniferous ground for their indoor plants from under the trees. When we take this ground, remove branches and bumps from it. Finding quality coniferous land is difficult, as there is a lot of sand in the soil under the plants.


It is an important ingredient for the preparation of the soil substrate. This component should be taken very seriously. It is impossible to add red sand in the soil because it is unsuitable for plants since this soil contains harmful iron compounds. Preference should be given to river sand. It is used without preliminary preparation. Before using the sea sand, rinse well to remove salt.

Use to sphagnum

The sphagnum is a spore perennial plant, which does not have a root system. But most modern gardeners use moss sphagnum for their houseplants and consider it the best helper. First of all, when we add sphagnum, the substrate becomes loose. Secondly, moss absorbs a lot of moisture and gives it the soil gradually. As a result, the soil is always wet. Also, sphagnum has antibacterial properties. Moss contains substance sphagnol, which disinfects soil. If there is this substance in the soil mixture, the root system is protected from rot and fungus.

Not all of us know for sure how to use moss sphagnum in the cultivation of our houseplants. Useful properties of moss allow it to be used for various purposes in indoor flower gardening.

We can add it to soil mixtures when growing plants. Moss improves the structure of the soil. It gives the soil ease, air permeability, and moisture content. The sphagnum absorbs excess moisture, preventing the roots from being in the wet soil. This property saves the roots from drying out. Moisture is gradually absorbed by roots, if necessary. But adding more than 10% of moss in the soil is not possible, as it increases the acidity of the substrate. Although this quality is irreplaceable for growing of azaleas and violets because these plants require soil with high acidity.

We can circle the flower pot by moss to maintain air humidity. Moss is applied to the surface around the pot when growing plants, which require high humidity. The sphagnum gives moisture to the roots when water begins to evaporate.

We can use the sphagnum as mulch. But constantly keep moss on the surface of the soil in a pot is not worthwhile. As in this case, a high humidity creates under it and roots can be damaged. But if we need to leave our plant for 7-10 days, the moss will help keep moisture in the soil. When arriving, we need to remove it from the pot.

We can it as rooting of leaves and petioles. Moss prevents rotting of cuttings and leaves at a reproduction of plants due to bactericidal properties. For rooting the stalk or leaf are placed in a mixture of wet moss and soil in a ratio of 1: 1. Moss is added to the soil in a ratio of 1: 3 when we transplant plants. Also, this method of rooting is recommended for violets, when we grow them from a leaf. We cannot apply moss when rooting succulents.

Used to germination of small seeds. Seeds of some crops require access to light for germination. Therefore, it is recommended to distribute them along the surface of the soil and do not fill with the ground from above. But seeds often dry up, and without giving seedlings. If small seeds are placed on moistened moss and covered with a film. Germination occurs without problems. The sphagnum slightly envelops the seeds, does not allow them to dry out, and provides them with access to light at the same time.

Used to envelop the trunks of plants with air roots. Effectively we use sphagnum for winding orchid air roots. Thus, we create truly tropical conditions for this whimsical flower.Use to keep bulbs and tubers. We use sphagnum to cover tubers and bulbs of heat-loving flowers, which were dug out of open soil. It avoids their rotting and drying. Moss will not only preserve the required moisture in the bulbs and tubers but will also provide an antiseptic effect. Tubers and bulbs, which stored in sphagnum, are not damaged by mold or gray rot and survive safely until spring planting.

We hope this information will be useful for you!

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