Organic Soil Conditioners

Type

Structure-Modifying Ability

Other advantages

Nutrient & Water-Holding Capacity

Uses

Activated sludge, garden compost

Organic sludge and compost are useful for modifying soil structure

Adds nutrients to soil

Good

Useful in clay and sand

Manures

Fair

Has high nutrient content, but must be well rotted

Fair

Useful in clay and sand

Leaf Mold

Fair

Should be well decom-popsed; adds usable nutrients

Fair

Useful in clay and sand

Sawdust

Good

Untreated is high in carbon, low in nitrogen, can be purchased with nigrogen added

Fair to good

Useful in sand

Rice hulls

Fair

Adds nitrogen 1/5 lb. per 10 cu. ft.

Poor

Useful in clay

Bark

Granular, easy to use; helps break up heavy soild

Needs nitrogen if untreated—1 lb. per 10 cu. ft.

Poor

Useful in clay

Figure 2.07

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PLANT NUTRIENTS AND MORE

Nutrients

Function

Symptions of soil nutrient deficiency

MAJOR NUTRIENTS

Nitrogen (N)

Produces a dark green vigorous leaf color, vigorous root system, feeds Leaves yellow yellow-green, stunted growth soil microorganisms

Phosphorus (P) Stimulates early root formation, gives rapid start, hastens maturity, pro- Leaves have purple or red appearance vides disease resistance; important for development of flowers, fruit and seed

Phosphorus (P) Stimulates early root formation, gives rapid start, hastens maturity, pro- Leaves have purple or red appearance vides disease resistance; important for development of flowers, fruit and seed

Potassium (K) Important in the manufacturer of sugar and starch; influences leaf and Leaves look dry or scorched at edges root system development; ¡increases vigor and disease-resistance

SECONDARY NUTRIENTS_

Calcium (Ca) Necessary for manufacture and growth of plant cells, promotes early Plants stunted, leaves wrinkles root growth

Manganese (Mn) Speedsor important for seed development Chlorosis (yellowing) of leaves

Sulfur (S) Maintains dark-green color—constituent of proteins Pale-green, yellowing

MICRO-NUTRIENTS (TRACE ELEMENTS)

Iron (Fe) Promotes chlorophyll production; catalyst in enzyme system

Magnesium (Mg) Forms chlorophyll and sugar; important for seed development

Copper (Cu) Enzyme activator essential for chlorophyll formation

Zinc (Zn)- Necessary for normal chlorophyl production and growth

Boron (B) Needed for calcium utilization and normal cell division

Molybdenum (Mo) Important in the utilization of nitrogen

Chlorine (CI) Essential for proper plant development

Yellowing leaves, green veins Chlorosis (yellowing) of leaves Multiple budding Small, yellow leaves Leaves yellowish red to the commercial laboratory for testing. There are many labs throughout the country that make this service available. Check your telephone yellow pages under Labs-soil

Third, you can purchase a soil test kit at your local nursery or garden center and test the soil yourself. The procedure consists of filling a small glass container partly full of fine soil, then adding the testing solution. The result of this mixture is compared with an easy-to-read color chart Anyone who can read and compare colors can produce practical results. Kits range from a simple pH test (about $3) to elaborate soil test kits that test for all major, secondary, and trace elements ($100). Small kits (about $15), which test for the major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potash), are

Figure 2.08 Soil test kit

This home gardener test kit measures the pH and three basic macronutrients using simplified test methods. Graduated plastic test tubes are used for the measurement of the soil sample and reagent solutions. The results are compared to standards on laminated color charts.

LA MOTTE CHEMICAL PRODUCTS CO. P.O. Box 329 Chesterttown, MD 21620

satisfactory for most home gardens.

To counteract acid soil, group limestone is an effective agent, and in some areas it is used extensively. Dolomite lime contains both calcium and magnesium. Hydrated or burned lime is sometimes used, but it leaches away rapidly and can burn your hands. To correct alkaline soil, add gypsum, soil sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

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