Soil is the most important element for a farm garden. Learn how to develop healthy soil and add quality to your city farm or a garden.
Ensure the floor has been tested and found free of contaminations. Make sure it contains the necessary nutrients for effective growth.
In the area of urban gardening, soil either make or break you. To nurture healthy soil that will provide nutrients to your garden growing, knowledge of the composition of the soil and the ways you can improve your structural pattern is necessary.
Components of Soil
To understand how best to care for the soil, it is crucial to know its composure. Each soil sample contains the same basic ingredients in relatively the same amount.
About 50 percent of a soil sample is a product of divided minerals resulting from ages of occurrence of erosion and sedimentation. These divided portions come in three basic sizes: The Sands (visible to the eye), silt and clay (particles of clay individual flat can only be seen with an electron microscope). The USDA uses the percentage of soil that falls on each of these size categories to access soil texture.
Soil texture plays an important role in determining other qualities of the soil, so it is best you know your soil components. Soil with a higher percentage of clay drain poorly, While the ones with a higher percentage of sand cannot hold nutrient.
A laboratory analysis of soils can perform a test of texture in any given sample of ground, but this is not always required. Often, a simple “feel” test will show, take note of this tips
- Clay soil: a dense bush is formed when wet
- sandy soil: it feels brave; will not form a clump
- The silt soil: powder when dry; forms a loose group when wet
Pore space of a soil sample is approximately 35 to 45 percent, containing water (water-soluble nutrients) and air. Soil texture determines the amount of pore space and pore size. Sandy soils have larger pores, while the clay-based soils have smaller pores, but many more of them. As sandy soil drains faster than a clay-based soil. Organic matter is present in the soil in about 1-6 percent proportion. This small percentage plays the most vital role in the soil. It is a great source of plant nutrients, food for beneficial soil microbes and higher ingredient to develop a good soil structure – the greatest determinant of soil quality.
“Soil structure” is the property of soil describing how mineral particle connects or forms together. It is an important soil health and plant factor. Organic matter forms a good structure by joining the particles together and determining how they aggregate. For Clay particles, it only separates them, It binds the sand particles to decrease the pore spaces and increase the rate of water retention. It later results in loose, broken , nutrient deficient soil.
Living organisms are the final component of the soil. They are of different size varying from microscopic bacteria and fungi to mice, moles and earthworms (vermacompost), soil life is important for plant growth, they Process soil, transform certain nutrients into a usable form and most of them add more nutrient to the soil. The soil life is also partly responsible for soil aeration and helps develop a good soil structure. Fungi’s activities below the soil surface form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, so to gather more plant nutrients from a larger area.
pH of Soil
Soil pH, which is the measure of the acidity of a soil is an important quality. Soil pH is plotted on a scale of zero to 14, (seven being neutral). Measurement below seven are considered acidic soil, while above seven is alkaline soil. In some certain levels of soil pH, nutrients are more much available to plants, while it is not so for other level. In general, soil pH 6.5 is the widest range of nutrients available. Blueberries and evergreens are exempt from this rule because they use large amounts of iron, a nutrient available mainly at pH values of more acidic soil. Testing of soil is the only way to determine the soil PH, If the results of the tests shows that the soil is too acidic, then add lime to raise the soil PH. For an alkaline, result. Add sulfur to lower the pH of the soil. Most of the results of soil analysis will give ideas on the amounts of these products needed to adjust the pH of the soil properly.
Ensure you know that plant will later utilize calcium and magnesium provided by lime for its growth, and these nutrients, along with any added sulfur may also be filtered from the ground. Due to this, changing that affect soil pH is not permanent, lasting three to four years maximum. It is essential to keep re-pH soil test regularly, since you can easily change.
Testing the Soil
To get a good grip on your soil’s fertility, test the soil. Once existing nutrient levels and soil pH are determined, it’s easy to research what’s needed to appropriately adjust them. Soil tests are available from both independent laboratories (found online) and your county’s cooperative extension agency.
Most soil tests come with instructions for acquiring a representative soil sample. Retesting soil every few years is recommended. Soil testing is necessary to determine nutrient deficiencies or excesses, plus it provides an exact soil pH measurement and may reveal important information like organic matter content or the presence of heavy metals. (Consider these uncommon soil tests.)
An important note: The practice of regularly adding quality organic matter to the soil may eventually eliminate the need for any additional fertilizers. To generate peak fertility, create a healthy, balanced soil with great structure and plenty of active soil life.
Summing Up Soil
It can be said that an urban farm lives and dies by the health of its soil. Best management practices go a long way when it comes to soil maintenance, so remain constantly mindful of the objectives discussed above: Build good soil structure by regularly adding organic matter, habitually testing the soil, promoting beneficial soil life, handling soil preparation with care and making use of soil-enhancing cover crops. Soil preservation is not necessarily the most glamorous job on the farm, but it comes with huge rewards. Ultimately, the result of proper soil maintenance is a thriving city farm.
Featured Image: credit to Flickr