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  • Types of Soil

    1 posts, 1 voices, 519 views, started Apr 25, 2010

    Posted on Sunday, April 25, 2010 by Denise Richardson




    • Diamond
      Offline
      Ambassador

      Types of soil

      While leaves, flower and fruit capture our attention, much of a plant’s growth activity occurs in its roots. Proper soil sustains plants’ systems for health and growth.

      Evaluate soil types by 3 basic properties

      •Structure.
      •Nutrients.
      •pH level.
      Structure describes density.

      •Clay is heavy and sticky.
      •Sand is light and dry.
      •Loam is a balanced combination of clay, sand and loam.
      Nutrients provide food necessary for plant growth.

      •Nitrogen nourishes stems and foliage.
      •Phosphorous sustains roots and flowers.
      •Potassium promotes food production.
      pH Level
      Correct soil pH allows the root system to absorb crucial nutrients
      The pH scale runs from 0 to 14.

      •A pH level of 7.0 is neutral.
      •Any pH below 7.0 is acidic, the further below the more acidic.
      •A pH above 7.0 is basic, or alkaline, and like acids, the farther from 7.0 the more basic.
      Typically flower and vegetable gardens require a 6.0 to 7.0 pH level.

      Testing

      Soil testing, available through county extension services and many local gardening centers, provides the most efficient determination of soil types. Follow the sample collection instructions carefully for most accurate results. Look for tests that report organic content (typically only 1%, needing to be at least 3%).

      Making adjustments

      Establishing proper balance between retaining moisture and draining well yields productive soil types. Roots need moisture available to sustain them during dry periods between rains or watering, yet won’t tolerate standing water. Soil needs to be porous enough to allow air to circulate through the roots, yet strong enough to support the plant’s mass for growth.

      Whatever soil type adjustments are made, work in to a depth at least twice the depth of the addition – work two inches of top layer in at least four inches, three inches of top layer in at least six inches, etc.

      Changing the pH level of garden soil:

      •Use 10 pounds of lime per 100 square feet to raise soil pH level 1 point.
      •Use 10 pounds of sulfur per 100 square feet of soil to lower pH level 1 point.
      •Wait two weeks after adjusting pH before adding fertilizer.
      Adding organic matter:

      •Replaces depleted nutrients.
      •Both breaks up clay type soil to reduce its stickiness and helps sandy type soil retain moisture.
      •Organic matter sources:
      •Rotted manure.
      •Leaf mold.
      •Peat moss.
      •Compost.

      Cover crops like peas, beans or buckwheat, are grown, then cut and worked into the soil to increase organic matter.

      •Buckwheat grows well in many climates and works in fairly easily.
      ◦Harvest buckwheat when all plants show bloom production.
      ◦Cut to ground level and work into the soil with the roots.
      ◦Large garden areas may require tilling.
      When adding organic material work at least a 1:3 ratio. Work two inches of compost material through six inches of soil.

      Applying fertilizer

      Work in fertilizer with organic material when preparing the garden. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, onions, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and other high feeding plants require side dressing fertilizer boosts.

      Working the soil

      Make soil adjustments during autumn to allow soil to blend well before production. Leave the spaded are rough to allow winter conditions to maximize benefits.

      Be sure soil is dry enough to work in the spring:

      •A clenched handful should break apart rather than cling together.
      •Working the soil while it is still too wet causes compression, reducing oxygen needed for microorganisms, earthworms, plant growth, etc.
      •Add organic matter two weeks prior to planting. Work four inches of top layer six to 12 inches deep.






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