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Preparation for planting optimised

Preparation for planting optimised

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Published by: henpets on Mar 19, 2011
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11/23/2013

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Preparation for planting
Soils
The physical condition of a soilis very important to any gardeneras it will largely determine howmuch work is involved in growingplants, vegetables, ornamentalsand lawns. The chemical condi
-
tion of a soil is important too, butit is generally
easier
to add morefertiliser than to change thephysical structure.Sandy soils have a large pro
-
portion of larger soil particlescompared to clay soils. They aretherefore well aerated and draineasily but they require more fre
-
quent watering. Sandy soils areeasier to dig and are thereforecalled
"
light
"
soils. Becausesandy soils are composed of largernarticles they do not retain plant
ltrients
as well as soils composedfiner particles. Therefore theye easily leached by water drain
-
ing downwards. Sandy soilsusually require more fertiliserapplied at frequent intervals.Clay soils are composed of fineparticles which mean that theyhave smaller pores for aeration butthey retain water and plant
ltrients
better than sandy soils.lay soils are termed heavy
be-
use they are more difficult toltivate, they become sticky whenwet and hard when dry.The proportions of sand, siltand clay in
a
soil will determineits texture. Loams are inter
-
mediate in texture and generallyideal for growing plants of allkinds. When moistened, claysoils can
be
squeezed into
a
ribbonby hand while soils with a fairsand content will crumble andfeel gritty.
Organic matter
Plants and animals, after they die,are constantly being broken downin the soil. Billions
o
micro
-
organisms in the soil use organicmatter as food and they, in turn,release valuable nutrient elementswhich can be taken up by plantroots.
As
a
source of plant foodorganic manures are not as im
-
portant as
inorgmic
fertilisers, butit is the soil humus, the cementwhich holds tiny clay particlestogether, which is vital to theformation of well structured soils.Humus holds clay, silt and finesand particles together to formcrumbs of soil. Larger pore spacesform between the soil crumbswhich improve soil drainage andaeration.Heavy clay soils which havegood physical structure normallycontain high levels
o
organicmatter and calcium. These bothhelp to bind the clay particles intoaggregates, which improves aera
-
tion and drainage. Roots can moveinto the soil and take in nutrientelements held by both the clayparticles and the organic matter.The humus particles, like the clayparticles, are very small and arealso able to hold plant nutrientson their surface.In sandy soils organic matterplays an important part in retain
-
ing both soil moisture and soilnutrients. Sandy soils which con
-
tain little organic matter are 'easilyleached, and dry out rapidly.Organic matter decomposes atdifferent rates, depending on theamount of fibre in the material,the type of soil, the soil tempera
-
ture, and the soil moisture. Inlight sandy soils, alkaline soils, andsoils which are under continuouscultivation, the rate of decomposi
-
tion is faster than in heavy soilsand in acid soils. Cultivation
in
-
creases soil aeration and hastensthe oxidation of organic matter.Decomposition is also faster athigher soil temperatures.
Digging
the
garden
Digging breaks up the soil and im
-
proves drainage, aeration and rootpenetration. Vegetable roots aredeeper than many people realise(page
3
3)
and heavy or compactedsubsoils will restrict root develop
-
ment, and growth generally will bepoor.Manures and other organicmatter can also be incorporatedwith lower soil layers. This ineffect will deepen the surface soil.When digging do not bring sub
-
soil to the surface.
 
Plaiiz
digging.
There are three principalmethods of digging a bed priorto preparing for seeding or plant
-
ing.1.
Plain
Digging
-
This is suf 
-
ficient on light, well drained soils,or soils which have been deeplydug during the last two or threeyears. All beds for annual cropsshould be dug over each year. Itis important that each spit be com
-
pletely reversed. Insert the spadevertically, not at an angle, andturn the spit over with a quick turn of the wrist. Never dig whenthe ground is sodden. Compostor manure can then be spread onthe soil surface.
2.
Double Digging
-
This is themethod most commonly used tobreak up land which has not beenpreviously cultivated, or to im
-
prove heavy subsoils. There is
Double
digging.
little to be gained by double dig
-
ging sandy soils unless the subsoilis heavy. The soil is worked to adepth of two spits of the spade,the practice is also called half trenching or bastard trenching.Heavier soils should be double dugevery two to three years. Thefirst spit is removed and taken tothe other side of the plot then thesecond spit is forked up and com
-
post or manure incorporated.3. Trenching
-
This is a laboriousoperation in which the ground iscultivated to a depth of threespade spits, about 450 mm. Onlyvery heavy soils normally requiretrenching for annual crops. How
-
ever, it is well worthwhile work 
-
ing soil deeply when perennialcrops, such as asparagus, are tobe planted.Strip the cover of grass andweeds off the first section of theplot for a metre or so and dig outthe first 150 mm of top soil in
a
strip about
600
mm
wide
;
placethis soil at the other end of thebed. Dig out the next layer osoil to
a
dewth of 150 mm. but
only
take a
Grip
about a
306
mmwide. Place this also at the otherend of the bed, but apart fromthe topsoil. The subsoil at thebottom of the trench can be forkedover and organic material incor
-
porated with it. On some heavysoils sand can be added to im
-
prove the condition of the sub
-
soil.The step of the second layercan now be dug across, and thena second trench opened up, thetop soil now being placed in thefirst trench. The soil from thefirst trench is finally used to
fill
in the last trench.
1t
is important
15
 
not to disturb the sequence of soil
1
able amounts of water from the
I
layers. If the beds are to be used subsoil and thus dry out soils
,
for asparagus or rhubarb, add which might otherwise be too wet
'
generous amounts of organic for spring cropping.manure and a complete fertiliser.Beds are best dug over in the
Choice
o
crops
autumn after the summer cropsBoth cereals and legumes havehave been harvested. Lime andtheir place for use as green manure.manure or compost can be appliedThe cereals include oats, barley,at the same time and the bed leftwheat,
ryecorn,
and millet. The
in
the rough until required.Thelegumes include tick beans,
lupins,
rough surface will reduce run
-
off peas, broad beans, and vetches.and erosion. Rotary cultivators Legumes have the advantage thatcan be used to bring the soil to athey
fix
nitrogen from the
atmo-
good tilth for planting but theysphere which can then be used by
,
should be used in conjunction with the following crop. Howeverdigging or ploughing.cereals add more fibrous materialwhich will not decompose asrapidly
;
often mixtures of both
Building up
wet and sodden. If soil fornu a ball of
types of crop can be used.Heavy
nzud
in your hand (above) i
is
too
the
soil
wet. If soil crumbles easily but will
be
ne
it
largely
the
retain the form
of 
your
hand when
addition of big amounts of fibrous
squeezed (below) then the soil is in
an
material.
Few soils are just right for garden
-
ideal condition.
to
work.
ing, they may contain too muchPrepare a good
firm 
seed bed,
i
clay, and be too sticky when wetand apply
aboult
30 grams o
super-
phosphate to
the
square metre.
I
and too hard when dry, or theymay be very sandy and requireAlso use 30 grams of 
sulphate
o
1
frequent watering and moreammonia if a cereal crop is to befertiliser. But both the physicalsown. Seed of cereal crops can beand the chemical nature of soilsbroadcast at almost
40
grams tocan be changed by the additionthe square metre and legumes at
i
about half this rate.of ameliorants and fertilisers.
I
Ameliorants include mineralGreen manure crops maymaterials, such as lime, gypsum,require an initial watering if the
1
vermiculite and even sand, andautumn is dry, but thereafter no
1
organic matter including animalfurther attention is usuallymanure, compost, green manurerequired.and peatmoss.Legumes are best turned in atbe allowed to seed as they willthe flowering stage
;
cereals can
'
Lime
and
gypsum
Calcium can be added to the soil then provide more fibrouseither as lime or gypsum to im
-
material. Crops can be choppedprove the structure. Lime is added during the winter. Besides the
UP
with
a
'pade
and
worked
in.
when soils are too acid. Gypsum, leafy material which is turned
is
necessary
to
is used to improve the soil
struc-
under, the plant roots add a
con-
microbes
to
break
this
added
I,
ture when the soil reaction
(pH)
siderable amount of fibrous matter
matter-
A
light watering
is satisfactory. A good dressing and open up the soil and subsoil.
sometimes
is from 250 to 500
g
per square During the winter, green where a large bulk of fibrousmetre but on very heavy soils this manure crops prevent excessivematerial has been added it may be
;
dressing must be repeated for a leaching of plant nutrients on light
necessary
p
rovide
nitrogen
number of years to have an effect. soils by taking up these materials
for
the
micro-organisms
;
add
for their own requirements. Thesetc 20 grams of sulphate o
Green manure crops
nutrients are then released to the
ammonia
the
'quare
metre.
If
the home
gzidener
is unable
tosoil in the spring when the crwobtain supplies of animal manure,
has rotted down. Green manure
green
nure re
crops should be
crops with deep root systems, such
Sown on empty vegetable beds
as barley, can remove
consider-
1
I
16
1

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