Every gardener knows that neither the flower nor the vegetable crops will grow by themselves in the garden. It takes a lot of effort to grow a rich and healthy crop. The first agrotechnical stage in the cultivation of any cultivated plants is the proper preparation of the soil in which they will grow, blossom and bear fruit. In this work, there are several important steps: digging, improving the structure, fertilizer and disinfection. Let’s talk about each in more detail.
Digging up the soil
This first operation to prepare the bed for planting vegetable or flower crops is best done in the fall, when deep processing is necessary (up to 50 cm). Such manipulations enrich the soil with oxygen, contribute to better wetting of the ridges during the autumn rains and during the spring thawing of snow, and also help to get rid of some of the pests that die from winter frosts or lack of air, getting close to the surface or, conversely, falling deeper as a result overturning of land layers. When digging in the autumn, lumps should not be broken. So the land freezes through better and is partially freed from pests and weed seeds. In addition, with deep processing, stones and roots of weeds are necessarily removed.
After the snow melts, even the soil that has been dug up since the fall always sinks a little and thickens. Therefore, in the spring, it is necessary to carry out a repeated, not so deep, digging or simply loosening, if the ground is light enough.
If in the fall you did not have time to dig up the site, then the spring digging is obligatory and is carried out after the soil has dried out. Determine the right moment can be empirical. To do this, a lump of earth tightly squeezed in his hand. If after compression the soil retains its shape and does not crumble, it means that its humidity is still high and it is early to think about digging. But to tighten with this procedure should not be, as digging too dry soil will lead to its complete dehydration. It is no longer possible to carry out deep processing during this period, and there is no point in this. Limit yourself to about half or 2/3 of the depth of a spade.
In the process of digging up the soil, both in autumn and spring, it is necessary to carry out a simultaneous restructuring of the soil, if there is such a need. Often, the level of acidity and the structural composition of the soil on the site do not meet the requirements necessary for the successful cultivation of vegetables, flowers and greenery.
With increased acidity, alkalization of the area to normal pH values is carried out. This is done through the introduction of substances such as dolomite flour, lime powder or ground chalk. Well reduces acidic reaction and at the same time enriches the soil with mineral salts wood ash. The required amount of lime composition is determined depending on the pH level and what kind of soil you want to get in the end: slightly acidic or neutral. The last parameter depends on the preferences of a particular culture.
To improve the structure of the soil, certain additives are also necessary, depending on its initial characteristics. For example, heavy clay soils need to be loosened with sand, humus and peat. Peatlands (especially those on horseback) need turfy ground, sand and compost to increase their moisture-transmitting ability. Sands also require sod land, and even any kind of organic matter, from manure to sawdust, to increase moisture holding capacity.
Measures to improve soil fertility are carried out simultaneously with its digging. During autumn digging, organic fertilizers are usually applied. It can be dung, humus or compost. Fertilizer is scattered on the site, then shallowly dug up, and then carry out a deeper treatment.
The spring period is usually most suitable for the introduction of mineral supplements (superphosphate, urea, nitrophos, etc.). It is also advisable to distribute it over the surface of the bed before digging, since after this process the fertilizer gets deep into the soil, which brings it closer to the root system of future plants and makes assimilation easier and faster. The composition of such fertilizers depends on the requirements of a particular crop and type of soil: peat, clay, sand, etc. They almost always must contain three main components in different proportions: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
It is very important before planting seedlings to treat the area from pathogenic bacteria and pests. For this there are four groups of methods.
- The use of elevated temperatures. This method is quite effective for the destruction of pathogens of various diseases and harmful insects. There are two ways to implement temperature treatment, which are quite effective at stable positive air temperatures, that is, at the end of April or May. The first is to spill the prepared area with boiling water. The second way consists in dense shelter of a bed for 3-4 days with several layers of a polyethylene film. In sunny weather under such a shelter, provided it is completely tight, the temperature can rise to 70–80 ° C.
- Safe for the health of folk remedies. Many adherents of ecological farming practice the treatment of ridges from diseases and pests using solutions of various natural disinfectants. This may be an aqueous solution of coniferous concentrate, an infusion of tobacco dust, as well as other infusions and decoctions of plants with insecticidal properties (onions, garlic, wormwood and others). Perfectly enrich the soil and fight against diseases and pests of siderata plants (mustard, rape, rye, oats and others), which can be sown in the area both before winter and in early spring, before planting the main crop. Their shoots are cut and sent to compost or buried in the soil during the spring digging.
- It is also possible to rehabilitate the soil with special biological products containing effective microorganisms (EM preparations). Concentrates of yeast, fermenting fungi and various bacteria after application to the soil heal the microflora, contribute to the decomposition of organic fertilizers and protect plants from various ailments. Such drugs (for example, “Gumat EM” or “Baikal”) can be purchased in specialized stores or even prepared by yourself. When treating the soil with solutions of EM drugs, it should be remembered that at low temperatures they will not work, since beneficial microorganisms fall into a state similar to anabiosis. The sun rays also have a negative effect on them, so work in cloudy and warm weather 2–3 weeks before sowing so that the soil can fill with useful microflora.
- Chemicals are not so harmless, but with serious lesions of certain diseases and pests, it is difficult to do without them. If you decide on the use of fungicides and insecticides, then choose the formulations with the lowest level of toxicity, such as the biological products “Fitosporin-M”, “Gamair” or “Alirin-B”. Much less desirable, but sometimes necessary treatment with universal insecticides that save almost any pests (for example, “Aktar”). Useful treatment system antifungal drugs such as “Fundazola.”