Thursday, June 6, 2013

THE SCIENCE OF SOIL, can you dig it?

yardSoil is more than a medium to support plant life, it is the foundation for all life. Therefore, soil is critical to a gardener’s success. Ideal soil must contain air, water, and nutrients for plants to thrive long term.
By Kevin Holyoak, Master Gardener
Soil texture refers to the individual or primary soil particles left after structure is removed. There are three types of mineral particles found in soils:
Sand: Feels gritty. Composed of particles .05 to 2 mm
Silt: Feels smooth and is .002 mm to .05 mm
Clay: Feels sticky and is smaller than .002 mm
Soils consisting of only one particle size are not ideal. A soil composed of two or more particle sizes is known as loam, and includes varieties such as sandy clay loam, silty clay loam, or silty sandy loam. However, the most desirable soil is a loamy soil, which contains all three sizes of particles and contains organic matter and secondary particles called aggregates. This soil can provide the plant with everything it needs to thrive. It will have physical support for the root structure and provide an environment for air, water, and nutrients to be retained.
Good Structure:
A good soil structure also provides good drainage, which is important to ensure excess salts can be leaches through the soil profile and out of the root zone. Drainage can be improved by adding organic matter, deep tilling, planting is raised beds, and installing drains in the soil.
Make Amends:
Amending soils with organic matter is the most important thing you can do to improve any soil. The benefits of adding organics are increased water holding capacity, reduced compaction, improved drainage, nutrients for plants, and lowered soil pH. Composts and manures are good sources, but may also contain salts and weed seeds.
Organic Matters:tl
How much organic matter should be added to the soil. Apply a two to three inch layer of material if you are improving the soil for the first time. Apply one inch per year for existing areas that have previously been amended.
Dig in! Improve your soil this spring before planting anything and your garden will reap rewards all year long.
Tip: Visit your local nursery for specific information on your area’s soil type, climate and growing season.
Tip: Thyme and Lavender are great for protecting all vegetables in the garden.
Did you know that vinegar is a natural herbicide? Kill weeds and grass growing in unwanted places by pouting full-strength white distilled vinegar on them. This works especially well in crevices and cracks of walkways and driveways. Be careful not to spray it on the surrounding grass as it will kill that too.
More Ideas:
vinegarGive acid-loving plants a boost by watering them with a vinegar solution now and again. A cup of vinegar to a gallon of water is a good mixture.
Preserve cut flowers and liven droopy ones by adding 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar to a quart of water in a vase.
Wash garden vegetables with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar in 1 1/2 quarts of water.
Kill slugs by spraying them with a mixture of 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar.
This article was originally featured in dōTERRA’s Spring 2012 Living Magazine.
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