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Soil Management

Soil Management

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Published by TristanQAndrew
PLANT A SEED, WATCH IT GROW - School Garden Program
http://journeytoforever.org
http://community2gard.insanejournal.com
http://sustain2tech.insanejournal.com
http://food2bank.insanejournal.com
http://row2grow.insanejournal.com
Introduction
Soil Texture
Soil Structure
Amendments
Macronutrients and Micronutrients
Fertilizers
Soil pH - Acidity or Alkalinity
Soil Testing
Amendments Table
Macronutrients Table
Micronutrients Table
PLANT A SEED, WATCH IT GROW - School Garden Program
http://journeytoforever.org
http://community2gard.insanejournal.com
http://sustain2tech.insanejournal.com
http://food2bank.insanejournal.com
http://row2grow.insanejournal.com
Introduction
Soil Texture
Soil Structure
Amendments
Macronutrients and Micronutrients
Fertilizers
Soil pH - Acidity or Alkalinity
Soil Testing
Amendments Table
Macronutrients Table
Micronutrients Table

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Published by: TristanQAndrew on May 01, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/05/2010

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Soil Management
 Plant A Seed, Watch It Grow
Master Gardener Association of San Diego County
SOIL MANAGEMENTIntroduction
Good gardening begins with good soil. The successful gardener needs a basicunderstanding of soil since soil conditions strongly influence how plants grow.Healthy soil is a complex substance full of beneficial bacteria, fungi and animals.These organisms help break down rock, plant, and animal matter and releasetheir nutrients in forms that plants can use.
Soil Texture
Three different soil particles determine a soil’s texture. Sand particles are thelargest, clay the smallest, and silt is in between. Medium-textured soils (loam,sandy loam, and silt loam) have a good mixture of sand, silt, and clay that is idealfor growing most plants. It is more difficult to grow plants in soils that contain anexcessive amount of either clay, sand, or silt.The easiest way to evaluate your soil’s texture is to lightly squeeze a handful of moist soil. If the clump crumbles apart, the soil is sandy. If it forms a sticky ball,it is clay. If the soil ends up as a spongy ball, you have loam. Click this linkhttp://www.csgn.org/curriculum-digging.phpto go to the California School GardenNetwork for curriculum activities to evaluate the texture.
Soil Structure
The combination of individual sand, silt, and clay particles into larger clumpscalled aggregates creates soil structure. Good garden soil is crumbly. Nutrientsand water are held within the aggregates. The spaces between aggregates allowwater and air to move easily though the soil and provide enough space for plantroots to grow.Plants grow best when good soil structure is maintained. Do not walk on, work in,or drive machinery over wet soil. It is also important to refrain from excessivetilling. Any of these actions can damage soil structure, compacting the pores,which decreases the movement of air and water through the soil.
Amendments
Amendments are materials which change the physical or chemical properties of the soil and indirectly improve plant growth. Reasons to change the properties of the soil with organic matter or chemical amendments include:
Make soil surface more water permeable , especially silty soils
Enlarge pore spaces so water and air move more freely, important in claysoils
Prevent soil cracking; distribution of roots, water, and air are more uniform
 
Soil Management
 Plant A Seed, Watch It Grow
Master Gardener Association of San Diego County
Make soil easier to work, important for managing annual plants
Allow roots to grow easily and quickly from container soil into heavier native soilA variety of amendmentsSoil organic matter consists of all the dead plant and animal matter in variousstages of decay. A soil rich with organic matter supports a thriving population of beneficial organisms from microscopic bacteria and fungi to larger life forms likeearthworms. Organic matter acts like a slow release fertilizer and also improvessoil structure. Soil microorganisms feed on organic matter and release nitrogenand other nutrients it contains in a form that roots can absorb.Compost is an excellent organic amendment. Good compost, either homemadeor store bought, is the most beneficial all-purpose amendment for soil. Click hereto go to the Composting topic for more information on how to compost andcomposting methods.In addition to compost, there are other amendments that may be helpful. Clickhere to go to the Amendments table for information on specific amendments andtheir benefits.Amendments should be free of weed seeds, toxic materials, and diseaseorganisms. Wood ashes should not be used on soils in the San Diego area.Ashes are very alkaline and have a high salt content.
 
Soil Management
 Plant A Seed, Watch It Grow
Master Gardener Association of San Diego County
Working the amendments into the soilThe top six to eight inches of garden soil should be amended with compostedorganic matter. If you spread two inches of compost on top of a previouslycultivated soil and incorporate it to a depth of six inches, the soil will be amended25 percent by volume.Organic matter continually breaks down and decomposes, so you mustperiodically add new material. Good gardeners incorporate organic matter intotheir soil before each planting season.
Macronutrients and Micronutrients
Fertile garden soil is essential to obtain the best growth and productivity fromvegetables and flowers. Plants need different amounts of seventeen essentialelements to grow. Soils are rarely fertile enough to supply adequate quantities of all the elements needed for best plant growth. Most soils do not contain enoughNitrogen for optimum plant growth. Vegetables and other shallow rooted plantsalso usually grow better with additional Phosphorus and sometimes Potassium.These three elements, and any other elements that a soil may lack, can besupplied with an appropriate fertilizer and compost. Fertilizers may be either organic or inorganic (often called chemical) materials. Compost and similar organic amendments are a source of plant nutrients, but usually do not provideenough Nitrogen for optimum plant growth.

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