Good soil in the garden is like building your house on a Solid foundation or feeding your children a well balanced diet! Over the next few posts I will give tips and suggestions on how to get your garden soil to the best it can be. I have covered some of these things before and will link back to them as we go. I remember my dad and Grammie spending more time preparing the "dirt" in the garden more then anything. Not only would they spend time on the soil for the garden but they would test all the hay fields on the farms, so it must have been important! Plus that's where all those good vitamins and minerals come from that you want to put into your body! So how to get it to it's best?
#1 You want to do is test the pH of your soil, it doesn't matter if it is in the garden, lawn, hayfield or even your potted houseplants. Yes, I said potted houseplants, even the pH in them will change overtime. The ph (acidity level) of your soil has a large part to do with how
well your plants grow, ph is tested on a scale of 0 to14, with 0 being very acidic and 14 being very alkaline. Most plants
grow best in soil with a fairly neutral ph, between 6 and 7. When
the ph level is lower than 5 or higher than 8, plants just won’t
grow as well as they should, unless that is the area that they grow best in. Every Home and Garden store sells these kits or you can send your samples of to your local agriculture dept. to have professionally tested.
Note: My new friend at "Let This Be in You" blog, has a wonderful in depth post on "Soil Testing", so please click the link to go read more about this!
To figure out your soil type, take a handful of moist (but not
wet) soil from your garden, and give it a firm squeeze. Then, open your
hand. One of three things will happen: 1) It will hold its shape, and when you give it a light poke, it crumbles. Lucky you—this means you have luxurious loam! 2) It will hold its shape, and, when poked, sits stubbornly in your hand. This means you have clay soil. 3) It will fall apart as soon as you open your hand. This means you have sandy soil.
Now you can work on improving it, unless you are one of the Blessed ones with Loamy soil and you can just keep adding good Ol "Black Gold" Compost or you may have to work to improve it and we will talk about that a little later!
#3 Next you can do the "Percolation Test", this determines the drainage of your soil. This is good to know because some plants grow much better in a well drained soil and some obviously do not! To test your soil’s drainage: 1) Dig a hole about six inches wide and one foot deep (Dad used a post hole digger, if you have one). 2) Fill the hole with water and let it drain completely. 3) Fill it with water again. 4) Keep track of how long it takes for the water to drain.
If the water takes more than four hours to drain, you have poor drainage (Clay Soil) and if it drains right out within minutes that can be a problem as well (sandy soil)!
"Garden Champion" test. You know check for your hardest workers, Worms, lol! Worms are great indicators of the overall health of your soil,
especially in terms of biological activity. If you have earthworms,
chances are that you also have all of the beneficial microbes and
bacteria that make for healthy soil and strong plants.
How to do the worm test? 1) Be sure the soil has warmed to at least 55 degrees, and that it is at least somewhat moist, but not soaking wet. 2) Dig a hole one foot across and one foot deep. Place the soil on a tarp or piece of cardboard. 3) Sift through the soil with your hands as you place it back into the hole, counting the earthworms as you go.
If you find at least ten worms, your soil is in pretty good shape.
Less than that indicates that there may not be enough organic matter in
your soil to support a healthy worm population, or that your soil is too
acidic or alkaline.Then you need to check the pH again!
Tip: If you are lacking worms, you can either buy some to add or when you add fresh compost or maybe a friend has some good rich horse manure you can add. Any of these ways will bring a good host of them back to you garden!
This will get you started, now onto some other important soil tips in the next part!
For more reading:
"Great Soil is a Gardens Foundation", Part 2
"Great Soil is a Gardens Foundation", Part 3
Matthew 13:3 "Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.....8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Harvest Mondays, Bloom Day, The Country Homemaker, TALU Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Frugal Tuesdays, Frugal Days Sustainable Way, Wildcrafty Wednesdays, Wednesday Link Party, The Home Acre Hop, Country Garden Showcase, Farm Girl Blogfest, Fridays Fertilizer Flaunts,
Fantabulus Fridays, Farm Girl Friday, Clever Chicks Blog Hop,, Simply Natural Saturday,
Sunny Simple Sunday Link