By Keri Byrum
If your sandy or poor soil has you feeling that your garden never reaches its full potential, do not despair! The Gulf Coast is known for a wide range of difficult soils, but these tips can help you make the most of your garden.
Begin your improvement plan by conducting a soil analysis. This should start with a simple pH test to determine the alkalinity or acidity of your soil. If the soil varies far from neutral, incorporate amendments to correct those levels. You can purchase a soil test kit at Lowe’s, or contact your local Cooperative Extension office for this service.
Hard, compact soil makes it challenging for oxygen to reach plant roots. Loosening soil helps plant roots establish easily. If the soil in your yard is difficult to dig, use a sharp spade to reach 1 foot deep in landscape beds.
Gulf Coast soil can be very sandy, causing plants to dry out quickly. Incorporating organic matter helps retain more moisture and grow healthier plants. You can add everything from cow manure to mushroom compost. Topsoil and compost are great additives—even small amounts improve soil quality.