How to Improve Soil Fertility

Soil fertility is key

The tips below will help improve your soil quality and ensure it is fertile and less likely to be susceptible to disease and pests:

Make sure your soil nutrient balance is right

 To see whether you have fertile soil, run a soil test to determine if the nutrient levels are correct. The test will show whether your soil is balanced and has the right amount of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. You can contact Oxfarm Organic Limited to test your soil.  Most plants thrive only when the soil has the right balance of acidity and alkalinity. If the soil is too acidic, or below 5.5 on a soil pH scale, you’ll need to add ground limestone. If it’s too alkaline, more than 7.5 on the pH scale, you should add soil sulfur. Using a drop spreader can help ensure you distribute either soil supplement evenly.

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If you don’t test your soil on a regular basis, an easy way to check its quality is through a visual inspection. Soil should be composed of crumbs of various sizes that hold their shape while under a little bit of pressure. If it’s difficult to break up these crumbs, it’s an indicator that the soil is too hard.

How and why to compost

 Composting is a great way to give back to the environment and your garden. Instead of throwing your grass clippings, coffee grinds or vegetable peelings in the trash, collect them and all of your natural food waste for your plants.  You can buy a composting system or make one at home using household items.

When you use compost in your garden it provides your plants with the microorganisms they need to be healthy. To ensure the compost will be effective, evenly spread a three-inch layer to the top of your soil. It will serve as a sort of protective insulation. Along with stimulating growth in your garden, composting can also help keep harmful insects away.

Add Manures for Nitrogen

One crucial element of farming that is often overlooked is the quality of the soil. High quality soil can ensure that your plants thrive and your farm sustains itself for years.

All livestock manures can be valuable additions to soil — their nutrients are readily available to soil organisms and plants. In fact, manures make a greater contribution to soil aggregation than composts, which have already mostly decomposed.

You should apply manure with care. Although pathogens are less likely to be found in manures from homesteads and small farms than those from large confinement livestock operations, you should allow three months between application and harvest of root crops or leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach to guard against contamination. (Tall crops such as fruits and trellised tomatoes shouldn’t be prone to contamination.)

However, because some nutrients from manures are so readily available, they are more likely to leach out of the soil (where they’re needed) into groundwater and streams. Also, if manures are overused, they can provide excess amounts of some nutrients, especially phosphorus. Because of this, it may be best to restrict fresh manures to heavy feeding, fast-growing crops like maize, and process additional manure by composting.

Avoid harsh chemicals and Fertilizers

 You want to keep bugs out of your vegetable garden, but some pesticides may damage your soil. Instead of spraying pesticides and chemicals, use your compost, mulch and bio-stimulants. Bio-stimulants include compounds and microorganisms. While you can’t avoid keeping out invaders all together, this combination will make your garden less vulnerable to insects.

 

Integrate rock phosphate

Crops that are grown in gardens with adequate phosphorous will be larger and healthier.

Rock phosphate contains nickel, iodine, zinc, boron and other properties that help your plants to grow. All you need is a bag of rock phosphate from your local gardening store to sprinkle over your garden. If you do that once every two years, you’ll notice a big difference in the quality of your plants, fruits and vegetables.

Now that you know some ways to help improve soil quality, you’re ready to start a farm. If you are thinking of growing fruits that you can sell, check out our seedlings.

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GRAPES SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=GRAPES SEEDLINGS" > Grapes are often ignored in home gardens, and yet are one of the most widely produced fruit in the world—as well as beautifully ornamental plants. We have plenty of tips for growing grapes in your homestead.
Grape vines not only produce sweet and versatile fruits, they add an element of drama to a garden or landscape. They are vigorous growers, and with the proper pruning, they will produce fruit with ease and can last longer than 30 years.
The crop prefers warm to hot temperatures; during fruiting, the weather must be sunny and dry. Warm environmental temperatures during fruit ripening, is important in increasing the sugar content of berries while reducing their acidity. This explains why grapes grown under irrigation in hot deserts or semi deserts are sweeter than those from cold humid areas.
The crop can grow in any soil, from sandy to heavy clays but the soil should be deep and well drained. Where the rainfall is scant, supplement it with an irrigation of 500 mm of water during the cropping season. In Kenya, the cropping season is September to March.
Irrigation should be withheld after the long rains so as to force the crop to go dormant.
In August to September, fruit buds form thus it is important to keep the plant healthy and well manured.
There are plenty of health benefits in consuming grapes for they are a rich source of Vitamins- A, C, K and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese.

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APPLES SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=APPLES SEEDLINGS" > Apples trees can grow in a wide range of soils from medium textured clays to gravelly sands. However, poor soils will produce poor results and the best crops are found on fertile sandy soils and loams.
Soils should be well drained. Wet soils lead to poor aeration and increased incidence of crown rot in apples (Phytophthora cactorum). Generally, rooting tends to be shallow, and wet soils will restrict development, resulting in poor anchorage of the tree and a reduced area of soil from which nutrients can be extracted. Soils with high organic matter contents are normally better structured and allow good rooting.
Irrigation is necessary on dry soils, particularly when establishing and growing young orchards. Trickle irrigation and fertigation are increasingly used. In young orchards fertigation helps increase early tree growth and brings trees into bearing earlier. Sprinkler irrigation can be used to protect the tree buds and fruitlets against frost damage.
Sowing of a grass mulch between the tree rows is common practice, which together with any clippings, helps to increase water holding capacity, infiltration rate, soil aggregation and recycling of nutrients.
Apples prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH between 5.8 and 7.0). Extreme soil pH values result in nutrient tie-up or toxicity and poor tree and fruit development. It is important to amend the pH in acidic soils by incorporating lime before planting

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TANGERINES SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=TANGERINES SEEDLINGS" > Tangerines grow well in areas that don’t have harsh winters and will produce an abundance of flavorful fruit every year with just a little bit of help. The fruit often ripens in the winter or early spring, making tangerines a popular winter snack and a traditional Christmas favorite in many homes. While a single tree can produce fruit on its own, planting more than one tangerine cultivar in an area can increase the yield of tangerines on all the trees.
Tangerines are relatively cold-tolerant, making them easier to grow than oranges, grapefruits and other types of citrus. Some varieties, such as the Citrus reticulata "Dancy," are heat-tolerant and do best when summers are hot, but other types, including the Citrus reticulata "Sunburst," do best when summers are on the cool side.
Citrus species can thrive in a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Citrus is grown from sea level up to an altitude of 2100 m but for optimal growth a temperature range from 2° to 30° C is ideal. Long periods below 0°C are injurious to the trees and at -13° C growth diminishes. However, individual species and varieties decrease in susceptibility to low temperatures in the following sequence: grapefruit, sweet orange, mandarin, lemon/lime and trifoliate orange as most hardy.
Temperature plays an important role in the production of high quality fruit. Typical coloring of fruit takes place if night temperatures are about 14° C coupled with low humidity during ripening time. Exposure to strong winds and temperatures above 38° C may cause fruit drop, scarring and scorching of fruits. In the tropics, the high lands provide the best night weather for orange color and flavor.

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