The Dirt On Soil


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How to care for your garden soil.

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The Dirt On Soil

  1. 1. The Dirt on Soil
  2. 2. Soil the life giver of the garden
  3. 3. What is Soil• Soil is a mixture of materials that supports plant growth• Soil Components• Inorganic – Weathered rock , air , and water• Organic – Living , and dead animals , and plants
  4. 4. 3 Textures of Soil
  5. 5. Sand• Soils with lots of sand have big spaces between the particles.• It does not hold water or nutrients. Sand doesnt react with other chemicals.• Sandy soils dont stick together very well. Plant roots cant hold onto this soil.• But the big spaces do allow air into the soil. There are some plants that are able to grow in sandy topsoil by putting their roots deep, through the sand to the subsoil.
  6. 6. Silt• Too Light. Its finer than sand, but still feels gritty.• Silt is commonly found in floodplains and is the soil component that makes mud.• Soils with a lot of silt make excellent farm land, but erode easily. This is the soil blown away in dust storms and carried down stream in floods.
  7. 7. Clay• Too Fine. clay makes the soil heavy and dense.• The spaces between soil particles are very tiny.• Dry Clay is like concrete roots cant push through it.• No air can get in from the surface.• Most bacteria and other soil organisms that need oxygen• But clay is important because it can change the soil chemistry. Clays give off minerals and absorb acids.
  8. 8. Loam • The perfect soil for plants and organisms • This soil has enough large and small spaces for air and water to flow in. It also has enough clay to let it stick together and holdhumus. • When gardeners call a soil "loamy." Its the nicest thing they can say about soil.
  9. 9. Soil Structure• Soil structure describes the arrangement of the solid parts of the soil and of the pore space located between them (Marshall & Holmes, 1979). It is dependent on: what the soil developed from; the environmental conditions under which the soil formed; the clay present, the organic materials present; and the recent history of management
  10. 10. Soil Compaction• Soil compaction changes the structure of the soil.• Water pools on top, and inhibits Oxygen from getting to roots
  11. 11. Prevent soil compaction • Step gingerly • Wet soil compacts easier • Bark , Mulch, grass clippings between rows can help prevent compaction • Mulch also increases worm activity • Raised beds
  12. 12. Repairing soil compaction• Soil compaction is hard to repair …So prevent it.• Till or turn organic material into top 6 to 8 inches of soil
  13. 13. All soil is not equal• Have soil tested• Best is 6.0 to 6.8• 7.0 is Neutral• Lower = acid• Higher= Alkaline• Organic Content• Get it tested
  14. 14. What Plants Need to Grow
  15. 15. Primary Macronutrients• nitrogen (N)• phosphorus (P)• potassium (K).• These major nutrients usually are lacking from the soil first because plants use large amounts for their growth and survival.
  16. 16. Secondary Macronutrients• calcium (Ca)• magnesium (Mg)• sulfur (S).• There are usually enough of these nutrients in the soil• Also, large amounts of Calcium and Magnesium are added when Lime is added to acidic soil.• Sulfur usually comes slow decomposition of soil organic matter.
  17. 17. Micronutrients• boron (B)• copper (Cu)• iron (Fe)• chloride (Cl)• manganese (Mn)• molybdenum (Mo)• zinc (Zn).• Organic matter such as grass clippings and tree leaves is an excellent way of providing micronutrients (as well as macronutrients) to growing plants
  18. 18. Mycorrhizal fungi are well known for their role inassisting plants in the uptake of phosphorus. Ectomycorrhizal fungi can benefit plants by promoting root branching and increasing nitrogen, phosphorus and water uptake due to their large surface area and internal cellular mechanisms.
  19. 19. • Worm and Insects
  20. 20. • Mushroom Compost• Worm Castings • Leaves• Compost Tea ( activates soil ) • The list is long• Leaf Mulch/ Mold • Organic Material , Organic• Pine Bark Fines Material , Organic Material• Peat Moss (retains water)• Sand Bad things for healthy soil• Coir • No bare soil• Leaves • No Pesticides• Grass Clippings • No over tilling• Aged Manure , Chicken , Cow , • Soil Compaction Horse , Bunny
  21. 21. When to work your soil• Make sure the soil has dried sufficiently before you work it.• Working wet soil will damage the soils structure. Squeeze a handful of soil, and if it crumbles away easily, its ready. If it sticks together in a muddy ball, its not ready.• First year gardens work the soil at least 6 inches deep.
  22. 22. Why not till Every Year• Soil is more than just dirt its alive with worms, spiders, small invertebrate animals Fungi, bacteria.• All this Supports Soil Structure.• Deep tilling means repeatedly cutting up soil with a roto-tiller.• This does not apply to Hoeing, Shovel turning soil, or tilling in a new garden• This does not apply to tilling in green manure. Or organic soil amendments.
  23. 23. Basics for a New Garden• Always Call Underground Utilities 811
  24. 24. Now We Are Ready• Mark out your garden• Remove all weeds using a shovel.• Remove as much of the root as possible.• Do not chop up weeds with a rototiller for quicker removal--youre simply making hundreds of little weeds.• If you decide on chemical removal. Follow directions, know the risk
  25. 25. Deep Till 8” to 12”•Break up dirt clods with theshovel as needed.• Till the entire garden plot fromfront to back, and repeat
  26. 26. • Rake the garden to level the surface.• Clean out weeds, roots etc..• Add Soil Amendments
  27. 27. Step 4• Pour soil amendments onto the soil, spreading them along the entire top surface of the soil.• Peat moss aerates the soil and helps with moisture absorption.• Compost will boost the soil nutrients.• Sand can help poor draining soil ( mix well)• Add Fertilizer now if needed
  28. 28. • Till or use a shovel to turn over the entire garden again.• Move slowly if youre using a rototiller to allow the additives to be worked throughout the soil.• Break up clods with a rake and shovel. Level the garden as much as possible.• Now you are ready to plant your new garden.
  29. 29. Preparing your Existing Garden• If you have a small area cover it with a tarp, black plastic, cardboard etc.• This will keep weeds from getting a early hold.• Putting down leaves or grass clippings in the fall will keep weeds down
  30. 30. Preparing your Existing Garden • Hand pull weeds, Make sure to get roots • Pull out debris with garden rake • Hoe or turn with a shovel top 2-4” of soil • Level out with rake • Now you are ready to plant
  31. 31. Try a Lasagna Garden• Layers on top of grass• Cardboard or newspaper on bottom• Then Layers of Green & Brown• Top with soil• Water each layer in
  32. 32. Keep weeds down with mulch• Grass Clippings – Cut grass before it goes to seed. Clippings will add nitrogen to the soil. About 2” at a time , not near stems.• Newspaper – Avoid using paper with colored inks; it can blow away in the wind.• Yard waste – Cut up any branches or woody material. . Takes a long time to decompose.• Compost – Needs to be ‘finished’ compost so as not to attract pests. Compost is a good early season mulch, but as the plant begins fruiting, you should withhold sources of nitrogen.
  33. 33. More Mulches• Hay – Good mulch – weed seeds may be introduced.• Straw – Good source of carbon; excellent mulch• Fine bark – Can be acidic. You may need to add lime• Wood Shavings – Avoid shavings from chain saws or tools that leave oil .• Leaves – A valuable source of carbon, leaves make excellent mulch.• Forest duff – Pine needles, twigs, woody bits are useful, but can be acidic.• Woody mulches are great in walkways …not planting beds.
  34. 34. Gardens Love Mulch
  35. 35. The Beginning
  36. 36. Thanks to These FolksFor Making This Possible
  37. 37. Information SourcesPurdue extensionUniversity of IllinoisUniversity of Colorado•