Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Soil 101

If you have not yet turned your soil over for your garden or flowerbeds it is time. Reflecting on the successes and failures of the last year motivates one to look at basic growth factors. Soil improvement is one of the most important steps for a successful garden.

A common mistake is working the soil too soon. You can do a simple squeeze test to see if it is time to work your soil. Dig down to the area that you are going to turn over or till take a handful of soil, squeeze it together and toss it gently in the air. If it remains in a ball it is still to wet. If it crumbles freely it is ready.

Soil Science 101

Working the soil when it is too wet will compact it and drive the oxygen out of the soil. Your ideal soil should contain 25% air, 25% water, 45% mineral matter, and 5% organic matter. Know one has the ideal soil and most that are purchased need major improvement.
  • Air
The roots of all plants are composed of living cells and for that reason each cell must have oxygen to live. This are comes from pore spaces in the soil. That is why when we have compacted soil air cannot permeate and the roots will not grow and your plant dies.
  • Water
Plants need water. Water should be able to added and be able to move through the soil freely. When water moves freely into the soil this adds oxygen into the soil.

  • Mineral Content

Contains three kinds of soil particles. They are sand, silt and clay. These particles make up soil texture. Soils with a high percentage of any particle sizes makes your soil unsatisfactory for growing plants.
  • Organic Material
This is the last component. Utah soils have very little of this. Luckily it is very easy to add. It holds water well and can retain nutrients. It cures a lot of soil problems. It brakes up clay into aggregates and in sandy soils it holds the water and nutrients. It improves both types of soil for better plant growth. All kinds of organic matter is used to improve soil. Animal manure, homemade compost, sawdust, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips or shavings, many nurseries carry bagged products. Stay away from peat moss blends this holds water if you applying to break up your existing clay soils. When adding most soil amendments you should add a nitrogen fertilizer. Organic matter needs nitrogen to break down so add some so your plants won't be robbed of nitrogen.

Make sure your soil is in check. Because no gardener should learn to live with soil problems, but you should do everything possible to correct them.

No comments:

Post a Comment