Be brave with ground
The roots of gardening, where the secrets of all plant performance lie, are the soil and its nutrients. Like us humans, plants require a suitable diet to prosper. Plants need their nutrients to grow well and to bear flowers and fruit.
So, when discussing plant health, it is a matter of getting back to basics. Proper soil preparation must be done prior to planting, to ensure successful plant performance. In Namibia we face various challenges, of which extremely poor soil structure and high alkalinity are two.
Starting with basic soil preparation, one needs to understand the basic elements needed for optimal plant growth: There are three main macronutrients essential for plant growth and development. One is nitrogen (N) for foliage growth, two is phosphate (P) for root development and seed germination, and three is potassium (K) for cell wall strengthening as well as flower and fruit development. In addition, plants need supportive microelements for
example iron (Fe), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), molyb-denum (Mo), zinc (Zn), calcium (Ca) and boron (Bo) etc.
Due to Namibia’s high soil alkalinity, we are facing the challenge of similar polarity values that prevent micronutrients from being absorbed by the plant’s hair roots. This results in deficiency symptoms and poor plant performance in general. To lower the soil alkalinity (pH), which ideally should be between 5.6 to 6.5 on the pH scale, there are options to follow: Organic material (compost or manure) causes an acidic reaction when added to soil. Ammonium sulphate also breaks down the lime, and Epsom Salt boosts nutrient intake.
Some solid advice: one can never put too much organic material in Namibian soil. Not only will it lower the pH, but also enrich your soil with microelements, enhancing your soil texture and structure. Organic fertilizers will always be my first choice above chemical fertilizers, but in some instances where one needs quick results like in the flower and food production industry, chemical fertilizers offer faster results. Organic material also acts as an absorbent medium retaining water, making organic-rich soils ideal for our dry, low humidity conditions.
I have often mentioned in the media about saving on big plants and investing more in soil preparation. It is wise to rather buy smaller plants that will perform much better in fertile soil, rather than being stingy on what you add to your soil. Buying bigger plants will most likely, after a short period of time, show suffering due to poor soil conditions.
So be brave and look after your ground…Eugene le Roux
AgriTurf: Marco de Wet
Cell: 081 600 9584
Eugene le Roux
Cell: 081 124 6965