Organic Additives

In clay soils, the coarse organic particles hold the compacted soil particles apart, breaking up the heavy soil. The fine organic particles help hold the clay particles together in small crumbs. This improves the drainage, allows the soil to 'breathe,' and adds nutrients.

Organic material added to sandy soil holds water and nutrients where plants can use them. Organic matter also keeps sandy soils from warming up quickly and prevents damage to vegetables. In order to be effective, at least one-third of the final mix must be organic.

In addition, the minute organic material is added, microorganisms in the soil begin to break it down into forms plants can use. The rate of decomposition and the products of decay depend on the material itself.

There are four general types of organic soil conditioners:-

Manures: have good water- and nutrient-holding ability, useful for changing soil structures. Manures can be obtained directly from a farm or stable or purchased in sacks as a commercial product from a garden center or nursery. Fresh manure should be allowed to rot before it is used in the garden. Commercial dried and packaged manures often have fairly high levels of soluble salts.

Peat moss: is high in water- and nutrient-holding ability, fair for changing soil structure. The better peats come from Canadian bogs. They are long-lasting but provide little nor no nutrient value.

WHAT A SOIL ANALYSIS WILL TELL YOU

  1. Phosphorus
  2. Potassium
  3. Calcium
  4. Magnesium

%, pH

  1. Electrical conductivity
  2. Nitrate nitrogen
  3. Ammonium nitrogen Micronutrients (trace and minor dements)

such as zinc, manganese, copper and iron can also be requested. The proper use of fertilizer will produce better plant growth because the elements required by your plants will be provided in proper balance.

WHAT CHEMICAL SOIL TESTING WILL NOT TELL YOU

The chemical analysis will not diagnose plant problems resulting from:-

  1. Pathological organisms such as fungus, soil insects or nematodes.
  2. Abnormal plant growth resultingfrom excessive soil moisture.
  3. Reduced growth resulting from soil chemical sterilants.
  4. Poor growth resulting from subnormal weather conditions.

Figure 2.03

OPTIMUM pH RANGE FOR VEGETABLES

pH

Vegetable

6-8

Asparagus, beets, cabbage, muskmelons

6-7.5

Peas, spinach, summer squash

6-7

Cauliflower, celery, chives, endive, horseradish, lettuce, onions, radishes, rhubarb

5.5-7.5

Pumpkins, corn, tomatoes

5,5-6.8

Beans, carrots, cucumbers, parsnips, peppers, rutabagas, winter squash

5.5-6.5

Eggplant, watermelons

4.8-6.3

Potatoes

Figure 2.04

{ CHANGING SOIL pH (

From

Additional lbs 11000 Square feet Limestone Sulfur

From

Additional lbs 11000 Square feet Limestone Sulfur

175 140 100 66

4 20 38

Wood by-products: are fair in water- and nutrient-holding ability, excellent for altering soil structure. These by-products include leaf mold, wood shavings, sawdust and ground bark. These have a high ratio of carbon in relation to the amount of nitrogen present, which means that the nitrogen is used up by the microorganisms in the decay process, making it unavailable to growing vegetables. Thus, nitrogen must often be added to these mixtures. Frequently, commercial wood by-products have nitrogen added in the manufacturing process.

Organic by-products (Rice hulls, cottonseed meal): have poor water- and nutrient-holding ability, but are good for altering soil structure at low cost

Partially decomposed organic material (compost), which is discussed at length in Chapter 3, has good moisture-holding and nutrient-holding ability. It quickly adds humus to the soil, along with nutrients in usable form.

Which additive you use in your garden depends on your own soil conditions and preferences. In general, sandy soils benefit from spongy materials like peat that hold water and nutrients well. Clay soils benefit most from bulky additions such as bark, hulls and similar materials that separate the clay particles.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment