Know the Soil, Part 1

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“To be a successful farmer one must first know the soil.” ~Xenophon of Athens, Greek philosopher, 431-354 BC

When the land has somewhat dried, it’s time to feed the garden plot. Whether you are starting a new garden or returning to your original garden site be sure to add some amendments. Sand, lime, compost, shredded leaves, twigs, grass clippings and bark – all without toxic chemicals – can feed your soil. Also, old fashioned, well-rotted manure is a good way to feed the garden site. Rototill the amendments into the soil. We continually save our egg shells and produce scraps to nourish our vegetable garden. Plus, our wonderful neighbors bring over their wood ash which is beneficial to soil and plant growth. Wood ash reduces the acidity of the soil. Let me add here that some plants prefer acidic soil such as blueberries, azaleas and rhododendrons and they will refuse to thrive if wood ashes are applied. If you don’t have a rototiller, no worries. An old-fashioned shovel and rake procedure will do pretty well. If your soil is heavy with clay don’t give up. Each fall and spring amending the soil will improve it tremendously.

Another way to replenish your existing garden plot is to plant a cover crop in the fall. In the spring you will need to mow it, leaving the vegetation on top of the soil to dry out for a week or so before churning. All of your efforts will produce rich, friable soil. Join me again by reading more about soil in the next issue. 

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