Great gardens begin with great soil. Most folks don’t start with ideal soil when they purchase a new property or decide to try gardening for the first time. Too sandy, too much clay, too shallow, too hard and dry… you name it and we gardeners have dealt with it.
Here in central Texas, a few folks enjoy the benefits of a deep, alluvial soil alongside a river or creek. Others fight the black clay that holds water like a fish bowl when it rains, but dries like concrete when it doesn’t. In summer giant cracks appear large enough to lose a small child playing out in the yard.
Still other gardeners, especially in the western parts of the area, have large rock outcroppings on which only a thin layer of soil remains. These soils lack the depth to hold much water and are prone to drought. There are plants that are designed to grow in such conditions, but most of our garden and landscape plants and turfgrasses are not adapted to such stressful conditions. You might as well spread a 4 inch layer of potting soil on the driveway and try to grow a lawn or flower bed on that thin layer…good luck and you better have a water hose nearby.
The good news is that you need not settle for your lot in life! You can improve your soil, and over time turn that parched patch of earth into a Garden of Eden. Most gardeners get it backwards. They buy plants and then come home and look for a place to put them. We should prepare the soil first. Then, the plants will thrive and provide the produce, blooms or other aesthetic benefits we desire.
Spend a dollar on your soil before you spend a dollar on your plants, and you’ll save money in the long run and have a much better garden to show for it. This section of the website provides information on soil testing, soil nutrients, fertilizing, and ways to make and use composted organic matter to grow a better soil, season after season. So dive in, and get the real dirt on building better soil.