Thursday, August 23, 2018

Good garden soil

Soil is a complex living system made up of minerals, organic materials, water, and air. The mineral portion represents the major component of the soil. A good garden soil is deep, loose, fertile, well-drained, near neutral, and has a lot of decayed organic matter. Most of the soil in the garden is millions of years old and composed remains of organic matter (plants and animals), or what they may be added by the gardener, are recognized as “new” material.

The volume of soil in all but the smallest garden is so vast that can be expected to change or manipulate only the very surface and then only temporarily.

Soils vary enormously from place to place, even is different parts of the same garden. The soil composition will affect which plants will thrive in the garden and which will not, although most soils in good condition (in “good heart”) will support many plants, apart from those with definite preference for acidic or alkaline conditions.

The soil that erodes from the surface of the garden (topsoil) is the soil with the highest concentration of organic matter. One should always keep the soil covered with plants, cover crops/green manures (see Resources links), or at minimum, an organic mulch so the carbohydrate pipeline (to the soil food web) isn't shut off.

Adding organic materials to clay soil improves drainage and aeration, and helps the soil dry and warm up more quickly in the spring.

Good organic amendments (additions) for garden soils include wood byproducts such as sawdust and bark mulch, peat moss, cured manure, grass or wheat straw, and compost. Inorganic amendments include pumice, perlite, vermiculite, and sand.

Organic matter can:
• improves the physical condition or structure of soil, thereby increasing the tilth or ease of working (especially true of soils that tend to pack badly or crust over);
• increases water absorption;
• increases aeration, allowing more oxygen to roots;
• increases nitrogen and other nutrient retention; and
• aids soil microorganism population
Good garden soil
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