Even though we don’t have snow and ice to contend with, the soil in the Tampa Bay area does undergo some changes in the winter season. Between hard frosts and low rain accumulation, the ground can become inhospitable for your new spring growth.
Just like anywhere else in the country, it is important to realize that your soil is full of minerals and microbes that your plants and flowers need to survive into the hot summer months. Soil is much more than just a place to anchor your plants – it provides the nutrients they need, and also is their primary water source.
Here are some tips to making sure that your Florida soil is spring- ready.
Did You Know? Florida’s dirt is largely made up of a sandy, gray soil named Myakka. It covers the majority of the state, and it Florida’s “official state soil.”
Even though its makeup does change throughout the state – for instance, it contains more clay in the Panhandle – Florida “soil” is primarily sand.
First Step in Soil Preparation – a Soil Test
It is always good to achieve a baseline of where your soil is today. By doing a soil test, you can ascertain your soil’s pH levels, as well as the amount of phosphorous, calcium, potassium and salts which are currently in your soil. By understanding what is already present, you can avoid over-saturating with one nutrient or another.
It is important to note that the general soil tests which can be purchased at your local garden center will not reveal the presence of insects or diseases, so you may wish to contact a professional lawn care company to completely understand the condition of your spring soil.
Evaluate the Soil pH
The pH of your ground soil reflects the presence of minerals and nutrients your plants need. A very high (or low) pH will likely result in your plants being deficient in elements they need, whether by lack or poor absorption.
The standard pH scale measurement runs from 0 to 14. The low end of the scale is acidic, and the high end is alkaline (or basic). Although these extreme measurements are reflected on the chart, very few gardens and lawns will see those numbers. Although every plant, tree and grass is different, the optimum pH range for most is approximately 6.0 to 6.5.
Did You Know? PH stands for “potential hydrogen”, and the pH level affects plant growth. Acidic soils are deficient in calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, while high alkaline soils are lacking in many micro nutrients. The pH level also encourages or inhibits microbe activity, which will affect the nutrient level of the soil.
Prepare the Soil
You will want to remove any lingering patches of compost or mulch, or simply work them into the soil. Break up the soil with a spade or rake to turn it over, and remove rocks or debris. Pull weeds, or apply a natural herbicide to remove them.
Depending on the plants or flowers you will be planting and cultivating, you can add fresh compost, earthworm castings, fertilizers – whatever needs to be added to your soil to make it rich and nutrient dense for the season.
Keep in mind: Our sandy, compacted soil does not hold water or nutrients as well as other soils. If your plants are struggling to remain healthy, it may be wise to seek the advice of a local expert.
Stop by one of our 4 area Big Earth Landscape Supply locations, or shop online for products which will help you to balance your soil, make it nutrient dense, and properly prepare it for your spring season.