Lets talk soil…An old gardeners Joke goes that “Soil” is what plantsgrow in, and “dirt” is what’s found under ourfingernails.
Guide to Soil and SoilTesting Importance of testing Ph for optimal nutrient uptake Soil Composition Home soil tests
Soil Testing Testing- Local Nurseries, State Extension Office, testing companies- Store bought test Types- Ph test- Nutrient test - Nitrogen, phosphorous, Potassium (NPK) Both are recommended yearly- I recommend PH testing yearly and Nutrient every 3-5years
PH for Dahlias Slightly Acidic – 6.2 to 6.8Below 6.2 add LimeOptimal Nutrientuptake 6.3Above 6.8 add sulfur
Nutrients - NPK Nitrogen (N)Stimulates Vegetative development. Necessary in production of leavesand stems. Phosphorus (P)Especially important in germination of seeds, metabolism of seedlings,ripening of seeds and fruits and general development of roots Potassium (K)Promotes general vigor. Contributes to disease resistance. Important tosturdy root formation and development
My Fertilization 1-2 lbs 20-20-20 to each 150 sq/ft bed prior to tilling At planting: each hole 1-2 tbsp. of a 20-20-20, bone meal and alfalfa meal mixture. Why Because that’s what we were taught by our club! General monthly fertilizing, after blooms begin reduce the nitrogen• To much Nitrogen can adversely effect the overall health of yourplants, leaves may look like the plant has a virus.
Soil Composition Soil composition is the mixture of silt, clay, sand, and organic matter found in your soil. It’s important to know what the mix is within your garden because it will affect the type and amount of fertilizer you use, how well your soil drains, how well it holds what you plant in it, and how likely it is to wash away in heavy rains or blow away in high winds. Soil composition indicates how alive your soil is— and the more alive it is, the better it is for growing things!
Healthy soil starts with the rightproportion of sand, silt, and clay Sandy Soil allows for water and oxygen topenetrate easily because sand particles are large.However, water drains away too quickly, taking with itany fertilizer you may apply. On the positive side, itholds plenty of oxygen, plant roots have no problemtraveling through it, and it’s easy to dig. Amend Sphagnum Peat, Compost, Composted manures…retain moisture, prevent leaching
Healthy soil starts with the right proportion of sand, silt, and clay cont. Clay Soil opposite problem: because clay particles are so small, they make it hard for oxygen to get in, and whatever water gets in will have a hard time getting out, resulting in poor drainage. This type of soil is difficult for plant roots—as well as spades and hoes—to penetrate. But don’t despair: this type of soil is generally richer in nutrients than other types of soil, so once you break it up, you won’t need to fertilize as much. Amend Gypsum, Sphagnum Peat, Compost, Composted manures..…prevent compaction of the soilNote: Do Not add Sand to Clay Soil or Clay to Sandy Soil……this cancreate a natural cement-like soil structure!
Healthy soil starts with the rightproportion of sand, silt, and clay cont. Silt Soil silt predominating in your soil is good news; such soil is ideal for gardening because silt particles are medium sized and usually result in good soil drainage and aeration. All you have to do is make sure your silty soil contains ample organic matter.
Simple Soil Tests #1 Ribbon Test Soil-texture test. Dig up a tablespoon or so of soil andadd enough water that you can roll it into a ball If youcant form a ball, the soil is sandy. Next, squeeze the ballbetween your thumb and index finger to make a ribbon.The longer the ribbon goes before cracking, the moreclay youve got. Less than 2 inches is a pretty goodcomposition. More than 2 inches means the soil isclayish. The feel alone can also give you a clue ... sandfeels gritty, clay feels sticky, and silt feels velvety slick.
Simple Soil Tests #2 The Squeeze Test To determine your soil type, take a handful of moist (but notwet) soil from your garden, and give it a firm squeeze. Then,open your hand. One of three things will happen: It will hold its shape, and when you give it a light poke, it crumbles. Lucky you—this means you have luxurious loam! It will hold its shape, and, when poked, sits stubbornly in your hand. This means you have clay soil. It will fall apart as soon as you open your hand. This means you have sandy soil. Now that you know what type of soil you have, you can work on improving it.
Simple Soil Test #3 The Percolation TestIt is also important to determine whether you havedrainage problems or not. Some plants, such ascertain culinary herbs, will eventually die if their roots stay toowet. To test your soil’s drainage: Dig a hole about six inches wide and one foot deep. Fill the hole with water and let it drain completely. Fill it with water again. 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.
Simple Soil Test #4 The Worm TestWorms 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 andbacteria that make for healthy soil and strong plants. To do theworm test: Be sure the soil has warmed to at least 55 degrees, and that it is moist, but not soaking wet. Dig a hole one foot across and one foot deep. Place the soil on a tarp 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.
Simple Soil Test #5 Soil Wash TestThe soil wash is an easy test you can perform that willtell you the approximate proportion of sand, clay, andsilt in your soil. Of course, you can pay a lot of moneyfor a laboratory to perform a professional analysis, butor most gardeners this rough-and-ready test will tell youeverything you need to know.
Simple Soil Test #5 cont. Dig 2 to 3 cups of soil from 6 to 8 inches deep in your soil. Let it dryon newspaper for 24 hours. Use a sieve or old metal colander to siftrocks, roots and other debris out of the soil. Crush lumps of soil to siftthem through. Pour 2 cups of the sifted soil into a quart Mason jar orclean mayonnaise jar and add 1 tablespoon of powdered detergent.Then fill the jar with water, seal and shake vigorously for 3 minutes. After 1 hour, the biggest sand particles will settle out into a bottom layer. After 2 hours, the slightly smaller silt particles will settle out into a second layer. And after 24 hours, the smallest clay particles will settle out into a third layer. Measure the thickness of each layer and the total depth. To figure the percentage of each layer, divide that layers thickness by the total depth. (Example: If all three layers total 3 inches and 2 inches of that is the clay layer, then about 66 percent of your soil is clay.) Ideally, all three layers will be about the same. When any of the three exceed 60 percent, that type is becoming undesirably dominant, and amending is advised.
Simple Soil Test #5 cont. Use results with chart. Sand 57% Silt 29% Clay 14%Analyzing the texture of soil is asimportant as studying the needs ofthe plants in your garden, andunderstanding the science behindsoil texture makes that job mucheasier.
QuestionsWe hope presentation will help you to better care for your soil through understanding its composition.
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