Vegetable Gardens & Organic Matter

Written by David Selman,

Organic matter improves soil as a growing medium for plants. It helps release nitrogen, minerals, and other nutrients for plant use when it decays. A mulch of partially rotted straw, compost, or undecomposed crop residue onrepparttar soil helps keeprepparttar 113425 soil surface from crusting, retards water loss fromrepparttar 113426 soil, and keeps weeds from growing.Practically any plant material can be composted for use inrepparttar 113427 garden. Leaves, old sod, lawn clippings, straw, and plant refuse fromrepparttar 113428 garden or kitchen can be used. Often, leaves can be obtained from neighbors who do not use them or from street sweepings.

The purpose of composting plant refuse or debris is to decay it so that it can be easily worked intorepparttar 113429 soil and will not be unsightly when used inrepparttar 113430 garden. Composting material should be kept moist and supplied with commercial fertilizer, particularly nitrogen, to make it decay faster and more thoroughly.

The usual practice in building a compost pile is to accumulaterepparttar 113431 organic material in some out-of-the-way place inrepparttar 113432 garden. It can be built on open ground or in a bin made of cinder blocks, rough boards, or wire fence. The sides ofrepparttar 113433 bin should not be airtight or watertight. A convenient time to make a compost pile is inrepparttar 113434 fall when leaves are plentiful.

In buildingrepparttar 113435 compost pile, spread out a layer of plant refuse about 6 inches deep and add one-half pound or one cupful of 10-10-10, 10-20-10, or 10-6-4 fertilizer to each 10 square feet of surface. Then add 1 inch of soil and enough water to moisten but not soak it. This process is repeated untilrepparttar 113436 pile is 4 to 5 feet high. Makerepparttar 113437 top ofrepparttar 113438 pile concave to catch rainwater.

Garden Soil Preparation 

Written by David Selman,

Different types of plants each require varying degrees of soil acidity or pH. Some plants are very sensitive to soil pH levels. Some garden plants will prefer acid soils while others prefer an alkaline soil. The acidity or alkalinity of soil is measured by pH (potential Hydrogen ions). pH is a measure ofrepparttar amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil, andrepparttar 113424 type of soil that you have. Soils in moist climates tend to be acid and those in dry climates are alkaline. A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is an acid soil and one with a pH higher than 7.0 is alkaline. The soil must be adjusted to suitrepparttar 113425 plant which will occupy that area if it is not already within that plants requirement range.Testing Your Soil pH Many garden centers will pH test a soil sample for you, or you can buy an inexpensive pH test kit at a nursery, or hardware stores. These test kits generally consist of a test tube, some testing solution and a color chart. You put a sample of your soil inrepparttar 113426 tube, add a few drops of test solution, shake it up and leave it for an hour or so to settle. The solution inrepparttar 113427 tube changes color according torepparttar 113428 pH of your soil. Comparerepparttar 113429 color ofrepparttar 113430 sample withrepparttar 113431 color chart that came withrepparttar 113432 kit. Matching colors will tell yourepparttar 113433 pH of your sample. Quality pH test kits will have a chart to help interpretrepparttar 113434 test result.Adjusting Your Soil pH Levels Once you have determinedrepparttar 113435 pH you can make any needed adjustments torepparttar 113436 soil. Materials to adjust your soil pH levels are available at your local garden center.Raising The Soil pH To Make It More Alkaline It is generally easier to make soils more alkaline than it is to make them more acid. Because different soil types react in different ways torepparttar 113437 application of lime you will have to add more lime to clay soils and peaty soils than you will in sandy soils to achieverepparttar 113438 same result.

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