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Wanda - Beginner Vegetable Garden

Wanda - Beginner Vegetable Garden
Posted by KimmSr from MI-4a/5b on 2008-10-04 09:48:00

Start by contacting your local office of the University of Florida USDA Cooperative Extension Service about having a good, reliable soil test done so you do know what your soils pH is and what the base nutrient load is, and then dig in with these simple soil tests,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer you soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.

to see what you do have for soil and what you need to do to help that soil become a good healthy soil that will grow strong and healthy plants.
A simple method of preparing the soil is to cover the area with newspaper (or cardboard) and cover that with a mulch material (to hide and hold) and then allow the soil bacteria to digest the plant material that is there and convert that into soil nutrients that will help feed the plants you do grow there.
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