This article is contributed by Ella Andrews on behalf of deep cleaning Wimbledon.
As the spring sunlight streams through clouds and over plants around the world, its rays become stronger and warm. As the winter snow has finally disappeared, we finally have a chance to pull out the gardening tools and to begin our work on reclaiming that which winter has hidden from view for the past months.
When is the best time to start working on the soil?
To do so too early would be a mistake, so avoid doing so when its still wet by spring rain or the melting snow. This would make it very easy to compact, making it very hard to dig in when you need to later. If you turn the soil over when its wet, this will simply turn it into large pieces of dirt that will clump up, making them more difficult to deal with further down the line. The roots of plants tend to grow most efficiently when there are some air pockets between the soil pieces. Wet soil doesn’t have any such space due to its packed state, so its clumpy texture will be more of a hindrance, especially if it creates large air pockets around the root system of a plant, instead of smaller ones in the soil itself.
So how can you tell whether your garden has been dried enough so it can be worked safely? You can take a handful of it, then try to make a ball from it. If you can shatter it with your fingers with ease, or if you drop it and it falls apart, then its ready to dig. If the ball only breaks in half with difficulty or not at all, then you have too much water present in the soil. The pliable mass of wet soil will be a problem to work with, so make sure you wait for a better moment in time.
Soil with a heavy clay content will be even more difficult to work with when its moisture is the same. Soul that happens to have a coarser consistency, such as silt loam or sandy loam will crumble when its water content is low, but it will likely form into a ball if its about 50 percent or so. More than that and it will be pliable and dark, feeling slick when rubbed between the fingers. Coarse and sandy soil will not form into a ball if the water content is less than 50 percent. That being said, just check out whether any soil breaks down that way before you grab your gardening tools and get to work. You will save yourself a lot of trouble if you do so.
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