Why Are Plants Used For Indicators?

The soil in the garden and bed influences the growth of plants – whether positively or negatively depends on how it is. To provide the best conditions for vegetables, herbs and lawns, it is therefore advisable to determine the quality of the soil. You can find out what the soil is like by using indicator plants. Instead of measuring the pH value and carrying out an elaborate soil analysis in the future vegetable or flower bed, you can simply observe what thrives there on its own.

Then you can plant appropriate plants or improve the soil quality naturally. Acidic soil, loamy soil? Pointer plants provide information Pointer plants, also called indicator plants, have only a low tolerance to unfavorable conditions.

Therefore, they only grow in soils with certain characteristics. So if you examine a piece of soil that is naturally overgrown for its growth, you can draw conclusions about the soil quality. For example, if the soil you want to plant is overgrown with lots of indicator plants that like acidic soil, that’s an indicator that the soil is acidic.

Alkaline/calcareous, nitrogen-rich or nitrogen-poor, compacted, moist or wet, and sunny or shady soils can also be determined by vegetation. You can read about which plants indicate which soil quality and what you can do to improve the soil in this post.

Chickweed and franciscus: nutrient-rich soil

Soil in which chickweed grows is also ideal for many useful and ornamental plants, because the inconspicuous herb indicates nutrient- and humus-rich, loose soil. When you pull out chickweed, don’t throw it away, but process it into chickweed pesto and other goodies.

The franciscus herb also feels comfortable only on nutrient-rich humus. It can also be used in many ways for smoothies, pesto and as a substitute for spinach, as well as for medicinal purposes. Other plants that display lots of nutrients and humus in the soil include chamomile, white goosefoot and Persian speedwell. You can use a piece of soil with these properties without further preparation. Since “weeds” also thrive here, it is advisable to plant the soil between each crop with ground covers that inhibit the growth of unwanted herbs.

Nettle and goutweed: nitrogen-rich soil

If there are a lot of nettles growing on the soil you want to plant, you can rejoice! They indicate a nitrogen-rich soil, which favors the growth of many plants. Plus, you can turn nettles into nutrient-rich nettle liquid manure or use them as a wonder herb for cooking and health. Goutweed also feels at home exclusively in nitrogen-rich soil. It can be made into spreads, salads and pesto.

A soil where chickweed grows is also perfect for many useful and ornamental plants, because the inconspicuous herb indicates nutrient- and humus-rich, loose soil. When you pull out chickweed, don’t throw it away, but process it into chickweed pesto and other goodies.

Other nitrogen-loving wild plants include burdock ragwort, sharp buttercup (also known as buttercup), field bindweed, shepherd’s purse, purple deadnettle, white deadnettle, and black nightshade. A nitrogen-rich soil is a good place for high- and medium-nutrient vegetables. To provide other important nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, the soil can be amended with mature compost and banana peels. The leaching of the soil is counteracted by green manuring after harvest.

The pungent stonecrop, which can be recognized by its fleshy leaves and bright yellow flowers, is a plant that grows in soil that is poor in nitrogen and often dry. It likes to grow as a pioneer plant in fallow areas and along railroad embankments, in wall cracks, and in dry woods. Where wall pepper grows, few nutrients are found, especially little nitrogen.

Nutrient-poor soils are also colonized by daisies, meadowfoam, and wild carrot.

To enrich such soil with nutrients, you can undermine mature compost soil. If the soil is to be prepared for the next season already in autumn, immature fresh compost is also suitable, which attracts earthworms and microorganisms. They loosen the soil and provide nutrient-rich humus. Autumn green manuring is also recommended. For Mediterranean herbs and other plants that prefer nutrient-poor substrates, on the other hand, the soil can be used without further fertilization.

Field horsetail and coltsfoot: loamy soil

Coltsfoot also indicates heavy soil and moisture to waterlogging. Other plants that need loamy soil are field mint, broadleaf plantain and goose cinquefoil. To prepare the soil for other plants, it can be dug up or loosened with a cultivator and sand and compost incorporated. Earthworms attracted to the compost also loosen the soil structure. Crops that tolerate loamy soil and moisture well include watercress, ivy, funkias and ferns. Sorrel and bracken: acid soil If you find a lot of sorrel in your garden, you have acid soil. Before you pull out the plants, consider leaving some of it. In fact, sorrel has many uses in cooking, medicinal purposes and in the home.

The bracken also indicates an acidic soil. Other wild plants that signal an acidic substrate include heather and various mosses. An acidic soil can be improved by sprinkling baking soda. By watering, it spreads through the soil and neutralizes the acidity. Eggshells in compost also make the soil less acidic with their lime content. Instead of taking the acidity out of the soil, you can also cultivate suitable plants, for example blueberries, quince, kiwi and arnica.

Field bindweed and field mustard: alkaline soil An alkaline soil, usually very rich in lime, is present when field bindweed and field mustard grow. Common kidney vetch also prefers an alkaline soil, as does hare clover. Coffee grounds and conifer soil can lower the pH of the soil. Grape pomace, a by-product of wine pressing, can also be used. It’s best to ask a local winemaker about it. Oak leaves and tree needles provide more acidity in the soil when used as mulch. Mulching also prevents the soil from drying out or unwanted weeds from taking over.

Herbs such as rosemary, thyme or sage do well not only with nutrient-poor but also with calcareous soils. Lovage requires more nutrients, but also loves a calcareous soil.

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