"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands........" 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Let's talk about dirt.............My grounds are telling me

that spring is almost here........it's time to get the gardens ready. 

But every year, I work and work and sometimes, the things I plant just don't survive. Harsh wind is one problem, but the main problem..........is tired soil. 

Healthy well balanced soil makes it easier to grow a variety of beautiful flowers and bountiful vegetables. Because of the different soil types not all plants will grow well in your garden soil. 
Once you know what kind of soil you have in your garden, there are many ways you can improve it. 
To improve a soil, first identify whether it is basically
clay
silt
sand 
or a mixture of these.
Also you can buy kits that are simple to use and give you a reasonable accurate reading for nutrient and acidity/alkalinity content. Acidity or alkalinity is measured on a pH scale that ranges from 1.0 to 14.0. Pure water measures 7.0. Anything above the level of 7.0 is acidity. Anything below the level of 7.0 is alkaline.  

Developing a "feel" for the soil type
this is an important step to learn about what type of soil you are working with. Dig down 3 to 6 inches , to where the plant roots grow. Scoop out a cupful of slightly moist soil, place it in a glass jar, and shake it thoroughly. Take some soil from the jar and rub it between your thumb and forefinger. Does it feel gritty? If so, that's a sign your soil is largely sand. Soil that feels smooth, like flour, is primarily, silt. One that feels sticky is clay. Another way to identify texture is to take a spoonful out of the jar and squeeze it in your palm. If the ball you made falls apart almost as soon as you open your hand, the soil is sandy. If it crumbles when you poke it with your finger, the it is loam. If it keeps it's shape after it is poked, it is clay. 


Now to remedy your soil:
Clay soil is made up of minute mineral particles that tend to clump together. It is heavy and sticky to dig. It tends to drain poorly. When clay dries, it becomes rock hard and cracks. To make the most of its natural fertility, you need to improve drainage and aeration by working in organic material (ranging from kitchen wastes and shredded leaves to well-rotted manure and compost)  or sharp sand, so that the texture becomes less compacted.
Silt soil is less finely textured than clay but still commonly suffers from poor drainage and inadequate aeration. Because the type of soil absorbs and drains water slowly, it erodes badly in heavy rains. However, it holds moisture very well in dry spells. Like clay soil, silt benefits from liberal doses of organic materials such as shredded leaves.
Sandy soil is light and esy to work. Although it warms up quickly in spring, giving plants a good start, sandy soil drains so quickly that the nutrients can be washed out. As a result, it needs plenty of organic matter and the careful attention of fertilizer.
Loam soil contains a good balance of clay, silt, and sand. It also has good texture and plenty of organic matter. You are lucky if you have loam soil, as it is easily cultivated of all soil types and hold water and nutrients well. 

Although it is still quite early in the year, and most grounds are frozen at this time,  it is always best to know about your soil and the plants you want to grow before planting.  Good healthy soil produces, good healthy plants!
 Do you love Texas Caviar?.......or have you never hear of it?
Visit my cooking blog 
for the recipe and to learn about the Texas lady who created this popular party favorite!


11 comments:

Sally said...

It's SO nice to see you, and I definitely needed to know about my "sandy" yard. Thanks so much.

Unfortunately, the grasshoppers were horrendous last year. It was
the first spring of living here, and I was very excited about growing flowers, rose bushes, etc. Now, I've got to study on how to get rid of them when they are very small. I read up last year, but have forgotten. :)

Now, I'm going to find out about that caviar!

Sally said...

I don't think my comment went through, but will check later to make sure and re-type if necessary.

Nice to SEE you tonight. :)

Nancy J said...

Love the soil definitions, but do you know when it is really the right time to plant a seed? Please post a pic or two!!! Sit on the bare dirt with a bare bum, and if it is warm enough to sit a while, plant the seeds. Lovely old photos, a super story all the way.

Patty H. said...

Not sure how gardening will be here at our new home. Hubby is wanting to make one. If it's anything like our neighbors soil it will make a good one. They shared quite abit with us last summer and their flowers are beautiful!
I love black eyed peas but want them cooked!

Bovey Belle said...

We have a very acidic soil, tending to clay and it's only thinly covering a bedrock of slate. I can grow beans of various sorts, and soft fruit, but the apple trees aren't so happy. Running out of the last bit of home-kept muck heap from my horses now, so I shall have to buy some in for this year.

Sherri Farley said...

Great photos! I noticed you don't have a remedy for excessive rocks....an Ozark soil problem! I'm gonna give the Texas caviar a try, it sounds very good.

Daisy said...

Love to see those first yellow blossoms! Spring won't be here for a while, but thank you for the information on the soil. I've never heard of Texas caviar before. I hope you have a nice weekend, Kathleen!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

I enjoyed reading about the different soil types and how to remedy them. But, especially enjoyed the old-time accompanying photos. We will not be planting anything as we no longer have a garden or a yard, but may do a couple of herb plantings in our apt.

Marie said...

I have tried growing things here and it's hard. Squash and other vines grow well but that's about the only thing that did well. I have tried amending this soil but between the intense heat, the poor soil and having to water constantly, it has become a problem. Plus I just can't dig like I used to because of my back (besides my chronic fatigue) so I have pretty much given up. It's hard to give up....I always feel such a urge to garden in the spring!

KathyB. said...

Knowing your home and the grounds helps. We developed our gardens from the raw land we bought & built our home on. So much hard work and love, and even more hard work, blood, sweat, & tears have gone into turning our mostly clay soil into rich soil and planting & harvesting, but the work is never done for a gardener , is it ?

Very easy to understand post about soil , thank-you.

Vickie said...

Hi Kathleen! Love me some Texas Caviar! I have sugar sand here where I live, so I have amended and added to and plowed in lots of organic matter, peat moss and vermiculite into my garden area. We keep a big compost here going year round. Since I've been working the garden area for about 5 years now, it's getting pretty good and I add more good stuff every year.

Forsythia!!! I haven't seen any here just yet but I'm a'watchin' for it!