Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Dirt on Dirt!

Here is my outline/notes for last month's (June) soil class :) This coming Saturday - July 16 - will be "right plant right place" - as we discuss plant selections for our area, planting techniques, and the difference between starting from seeds, seedlings and potted/transplanted plants :) A wee bit of anatomy too :)

But first: the dirt on dirt!

All About Soil
“Dirt Cheap” isn’t! Soil is most under-appreciated and maligned thing in the world.
Humans tend to take advantage of natural soil structure that has been built in an ecosystem, deplete it for agricultural use (plants or animals), then not rebuild it.
“Don’t put a $50 plant in a $5 hole” – REMEMBER, healthy soil can heal a sick plant, but sick soil can kill a healthy plant!
Inorganic components of soil – mineral, water, air
1)    Size Matters – particle size in soil typing.  Clay is smallest, sand is largest
“lumps of minerals”

2)    Keeping it Wet – clay’s small size means spaces between particles are tiny and it tends to hold water.  .  Sand has larger spaces and drains very well. 

IDEAL – 40% sand, 40% silt, 20% clay
3) Rock Hard.  Air… Roots need air – clay, little air space, sand – lots.  Adding aggregate – pearlite   and vermiculite… 

Soil layer test…Using a mason jar, drop of dish soap and water - shake vigorously and allow to settle...look at particulate sizes from bottom up and organic matter on top...

ORGANIC MATTER – living components of soil.

Organic, living part of soil consists of dead stuff and the things that eat dead stuff. As decomposers eat, give off co2.  Co2 plus water makes week acid, which then helps release nutrients from minerals …

3)    Little Wiggly Things – macro and micro biota.  Macro: worms, centipedes, fungi
Micro: bacteria and fungi.
             tending garden really means tending these guys!
5) Does it Feel Good? Does it Smell Good? – composting. Best way to improve soil structure and nutrients.  Carbon to Nitrogen ratios… 25:1

6) A Good Tumble and Toss – Methods of composting.  Vermiposting.
7) Deeper – hole method and breaking the clay pan
8) Wood in Your Bed – mulching basics
9) Cover it Up – never leave bare soil – nature covers it up! Green cover crops… 

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