For weeks I stared at those little beet sprouts, wondering why they weren’t growing any more leaves. Was the weather too cold? No, the last frost had passed. Was the soil too wet, too dry? Something was wrong, because the seeds had germinated but weren’t getting any bigger than being sprouts.
And then the radishes: they grew reasonably well, but the leaves were full of holes, eaten up by aphids. The arugula never even had a chance, as the aphids devoured then before they could grew more than a few inches tall.
Soon I was to learn that all these problems had something in common: a lack of essential minerals in the soil.
I had to build my garden from scratch; the native soil in the yard was too thick with clay, and lacked much organic matter. So I bought veggie mix soil from a reputable organic source, and it was rich and dark and retained moisture well, so I assumed it was good to go. But apparently not, because things weren’t growing well. So I bought an inexpensive soil test kit (https://eartheasy.com/soil-test-kit/) and was shocked to find the Phosphorous and Potassium levels dangerously low!
Each mineral plays an important part in plant health and growth, and a lack of these two will cause plants to be stunted, and lowers resistance to pests (among other problems!). These, and other necessary nutrients, can be amended pretty easily with natural amendments found at the garden supply center, or even with things around the house (coffee grounds, banana peels, and hopefully you have your own compost pile!). Had I tested the soil to begin with, I would have saved a lot of energy and hassle, and I could have had a great early harvest of cold-hardy greens.
So, if you’re starting a garden from scratch, take the time to build the right foundations for your plants to grow well. No matter how dark and rich your soil looks, it could be missing something important, so take that extra step for gardening success!