Soil moisture is essential for the growth of plants. If the soil is too dry, it can lead to many problems associated with drought conditions.
Soil can be kept moist by periodic watering, adding soil amendments that hold water, and mulching. For potted plants, soil moisture can be affected by exposure to the sun and wind, which can be fixed by changing the plant’s location.
Using a moisture meter can ensure that the soil is moist but not soaked. Healthy Soil is the key to the growth of healthy plants.
This article will discuss the steps and important things to know while you work on improving and keeping the soil’s moisture.
Why Should Soil Be Kept Moist?
The most important reason we should keep the soil moist is that it will help keep the plant healthy.
Moisture within the soil helps the nutrients to dissolve easily. This provides an easy nutrient exchange from the soil to the plants.
When the soil dries out, it becomes complex and complicated for nutrients to be absorbed, and as a result, the development of the root system is compromised.
Unfortunately, this can also lead to the death of the plant.
It helps control water and heat energy exchange through evaporation and plant transpiration.
|Reasons why Soil Moisture is Important|
|Moist Soil acts as a solvent and a carrier of nutrients for plant growth.|
|Moist Soil helps in the chemical and biological activities of the Soil|
|Adequate soil moisture helps in regulating soil temperature.|
|Promotes healthy root growth and development|
These few reasons stated above make it clear why it is essential to keep the soil moist. It is vital to maintain the soil moisture content because it will play a critical role in the healthy growth of plants.
4 Steps to Keep Soil Moist
Maintaining soil moisture is the key to the healthy growth of plants. But how to maintain the soil moisture is a thing to understand. This section of the article will give you deep insights into the steps you should take to keep the soil moist. Follow the shown below steps:
1. Water the Soil
The first step in keeping the soil moist is to ensure enough water. This means watering the plants regularly and preferably before they are thirsty.
If you have a container garden, water it every day. If you have a garden in your backyard, wetting it once or twice a week should be sufficient.
When applying water to my plants, I use a cost-effective and durable watering can that I got on amazon which makes watering fun and easy without any spillage.
2. Mulching the Topsoil
The second step is to add mulch on top of the Soil and keep it an inch away from the plant’s stem.
To mulch means to cover your soil with organic materials such as straws, leaves, cardboard, bark, etc.
This will help keep moisture in the soil and protect plants from harsh weather such as frost or excessive heat.
3. Controlling Wind and Sunlight Exposure
When plants are placed in areas with high wind, the moisture from the soil tends to dry out fast. The stronger the wind, the faster the soil will become dry.
Potted plants, when placed in more sheltered areas, can drastically reduce the rate at which the soil drys.
Garden plants can also be protected by planting them close to larger trees that can block the wind or simply putting up wind barriers.
On the other hand, Sunlight directly adds heat to the soil when it is exposed. The rate of water evaporation increases drastically with heat, especially from the sun.
For both garden and potted plants, a simple mulch cover can shade the soil from heat and retain the moisture which would be evaporated otherwise.
Relocating potted plants also helps with sunlight exposure.
4. Amending the Soil
Adding soil amendments to the soil can increase the soil’s moisture-holding ability.
Amendments like perlite and vermiculite can absorb moisture within their pores, which is then slowly released into the soil as time passes.
You can find a cost-effective mix of perlite and vermiculite for all your potting needs on Amazon. Find it by clicking here.
Most effective Soil amendment for water retention
Soil is a living ecosystem and an essential part of any garden. Soil amendments are substances added to the soil to improve its physical, chemical, and biological properties.
These substances can be organic or inorganic. Organic soil amendments include compost, manure, peat moss, and green manures.
Inorganic amendments include lime (calcium carbonate), gypsum (calcium sulfate), and rock phosphate.
Organic matter is one of the essential components of a healthy garden. Organic matter provides nutrients to plants, helps retain moisture in the soil, and reduces erosion by holding onto silt and clay particles.
The most common form of organic matter is compost.
Compost comprises decomposed plant materials that can be used as a soil amendment to help increase water retention in sandy soils or improve drainage in heavy clay soils.
One of the most effective soil amendment for water retention is lime because it increases the pH of the Soil, which grows the soil’s water-holding capacity.
Sphagnum peat is another soil amendment method for water retention. It is acidic and helps gardeners grow plants that require more acidic soil.
Like sphagnum peat, Vermiculite and Coconut Coir can be added to the soil for better water retention.
Besides strengthening the soil water retention capacity, improving and maintaining the drainage system of Soil is also essential. Hence, add the following items:
- Grainy Sand Soil
Therefore, try using these methods for better water retention of soil. Keep your soil moist for the healthy growth of plants.
Methods for testing Soil Moisture
Soil moisture is a resource that needs to be monitored and managed. First, we need to know how much water is in the soil and how much water it can hold.
There are a few different methods you can use for testing soil moisture. Let’s learn more about these methods:
Soil Moisture Meter
A soil moisture meter can provide an easy means of measuring the soil’s moisture content.
It gives you an idea of exactly how much moisture there is in the soil and how the amount of water that is required to keep it just moist enough to maintain healthy plant growth.
- Take the guesswork out of watering plants and keeping soil moist.
- It is both cost-effective and durable.
- Best of all, it also measures pH and light.
Finger Probe Method
The Finger Probe method is used when you want to test a small area of Soil. You push your finger into the soil until it reaches about 3 inches and pulls it out.
By doing this, you will get to know whether the soil is moist or requires more moisture for the healthy growth of the plants.
A wooden stick can also be inserted and left in the soil. It can easily be pulled out and checked to see how moist it is which would reflect the amount of moisture in the soil.
This is a quick method for testing the water content of the Soil. The person performing the test will take some moistened soil in their hand and squeeze it tightly.
If there is no visible change in the Soil volume, there is no free water content in that sample. However, if there is free water content, it will increase volume after squeezing.
This is another do-it-yourself method that can help you to test soil moisture. This method allows testing the drainage system of your Soil. Follow the steps given below:
- Dig a hole of about six-inch wide and one foot deep.
- Pour the water into the hole and drain it completely.
- Fill the gap with water again.
- Keep noting how much time the Soil takes to drain.
If it takes four or more 4 hours to drain, you have a poor drainage system and soil moisture content.
Worms can become a great indicator of measuring soil moisture content. Also, if your soil has earthworms, the soil has beneficial microbes that make the soil healthy and plants more strong. Follow the below steps to perform the worm test:
- Keep the soil warmth temperature up to 55 degrees. Also, make sure that the soil is not wet but moist.
- Dig a hole one foot wide and one foot deep. Keep the soil on the piece of cardboard.
- Separate the soil with your hands and place it in the hole.
- Take a note of the number of earthworms that come on the soil in the hole.
If you figure out at least or around ten earthworms, this is an indicator that your soil is in good condition.
Less than ten may show that either your soil lacks enough organic material to support a healthy worm population or that the soil is too acidic or alkaline.
How Long Can Soil Stay Dry for healthy plants?
Soil should be damp but not wet. If the soil is too dry, it can damage plants and make them more susceptible to disease.
Soil can stay dry for a long time, and plants can still grow in it. Many factors affect how long Soil can remain dry for healthy plants.
The climate is one of the most important factors regarding how long soil can stay dry for healthy plants. Different climates have different soil moisture levels, depending on the season.
Knowing a plant’s root system is also essential in deciding how long soil can stay dry for healthy plants.
A plant with a deep root system can go deeper into the ground where there is more moisture than a plant with a shallow root system could reach.
The type of plant you are growing also affects how long soil can stay dry for healthy plants.
What to do when Soil drys out
There are a few things you can do when Soil dries out.
First, water the soil with a sprinkler or watering can. This is done to ensure that the water being provided to the soil does not be overwatered.
Tillage is an excellent way to aerate and loosen up compacted soils so that water can penetrate more quickly into the soil profile.
Another thing that you have to do is to apply a mulch layer to the soil surface. This will help conserve moisture in the soil and prevent weed growth. Third, till the soil and add organic matter like compost or manure.
Watering is necessary to keep the soil moist. Watering can be done best by digging a hole and then pouring the water into it. In this article, we discussed how Soil could be kept moist.
Doing these few things can help you out if the soil dries out. Moistening the Soil means improving the water retention power and drainage system of the Soil.
Start using these tips to improve the soil’s water retention capacity for the healthy and robust growth of the plants. Keep your soil moist, not wet. There’s a difference between being moist and being wet.