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Organic Garden Soil

Organic Garden Soil

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Published by MSK. SahaaDhevan

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Published by: MSK. SahaaDhevan on Jul 28, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/17/2013

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Organic Garden Soil
A good garden soil should 1) soak up water readily, yetdrain fairly rapidly; 2) hold enough moisture for plants togrow; 3) remain loose and crumbly even in dry weather;4) have ample space for air to circulate and roots to growfreely; 5) be easy to work; and 6) produce good cropswith only occasional applications of fertilizer. These kinds
 
of soil usually have a pleasant smell and are full of earthworms.Most good garden soils aren’t formed naturally; they areman-made. The way to make the best garden soil is touse ample amounts of organic amendments. Becausethese materials are constantly being broken down andused in the soil, you should replenish them each time youprepare the soil for planting. Compost and manycommercial products are good organic amendments. (Youcan also replenish the soil by a process called greenmanuring.) When you add organic amendments, putthem down in a 3 to 6-inch-deep layer on top of the soiland work them in to a depth of 9 to 12 inches.1.Homemade compost The purpose of composting is to turn the waste materialsfrom your garden and kitchen into a rich, organic, soil-conditioning material. A compost pile does this efficientlyby accelerating the natural processes that occur whendead leaves, grasses, and other materials decompose.Piling organic materials up while they decay is betterthan digging them into the ground because; when piledup, they don’t temporarily rob growing plants of availablenitrogen while breaking down.What you put in your compost pile will depend on thewaste material available from your garden and kitchen,but you should follow a few basic rules so you don’tcreate a trash pile.1) Spread a layer of plant material, such as fallen leaves,green or dry weeds, and grass clippings, on a flat piece of cleared ground. Add layers of manure (or a few handfulsof a nitrogen-rich fertilizer), topsoil, and kitchen scraps(except meat, fat, and bones). Keep adding more layersuntil you’ve used up all the debris. Don’t put too much of 
 
one material in the same layer or it will tend to packtogether, slowing the breakdown and causing odor.2) Chop or grind materials into small pieces before youadd them to the pile. Smaller particles offer moresurfaces for decay organisms to work on. Materials suchas grass clippings that are too fine, however, should bemixed with coarser pieces so they don’t turn into a slimymass.3) Heat build-up is essential to make compost. Tooshallow a pile won’t hold enough heat in, and breakdownwill be slower. A compost pile 4 to 6 feet high will holdheat well and let air circulate. Some kind of a bin willmake it easier to stack compost to this height. Steamrising from the pile is a sign that heat is being genera ted.4) Keep the pile moist, but not soggy. Too much waterlimits the air supply. A pile with a slightly concave shapewill catch and hold the moisture better. During prolongedperiods of heavy rainfall, cover the pile with a plasticsheet or tarp to keep it from becoming soggy. If it doesget too wet, frequent turning will restore it to a healthycondition.5) Turn the pile every few weeks. Good air circulationdiscourages odor and flies and speeds decay. Turningalso moves the outer, unrecompensed material into thecenter so it can break down. Plenty of succulent material,such as lawn clippings and soft green weeds, should bewell mixed with dry or woody materials.6) Nitrogen is needed by the decay-producing bacteria.Sources of nitrogen are fresh manure, blood meal,sewage sludge, and commercial fertilizers.7) Compost is ready to use when it is crumbly and theoriginal materials have decomposed beyond recognition—usually about three months after the heap is built. Sift

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