How do you improve your garden soil in Spring?
Spring is here, the sun is shining and I have an irresistible urge to get out in the garden and plant vegetables. My soil is quite heavy clay, except where I have raised beds for growing vegetables.
1. Roughly how much does soil-testing by a laboratory cost?
2. Do you think it's better than buying your own soil testing kit?
3. What do you think about wood ash as a soil improver?
Wood ash contains about 10% potash. Traditionally wood was burned and the leachate or run off produced from mixing the ash with water was evaporated to produce "pot ash". This is potassium carbonate, and potassium is one of the essential elements, along with nitrogen and phosphorous, for plant growth.
I doubt whether wood ash would improve soil texture as it would be sort of pasty. My soil is clayey also. I don't grow vegetables, but over decades I have dug home made compost into the soil in flower beds, which improves matters tremendously. I grow flowers and shrubs in containers in neat compost and they flourish. Compost breaks down into humus and this provides nutrients, helps to retain moisture, aerates the soil (oxygen is needed by roots also), loosens the ground so roots can spread outwards and acts as a source of food for worms and micro-organisms.
As regards soil testing, you can buy your own kit , and the important thing is to try and take a representative core sample of your soil from under the surface. A laboratory would possibly take more/larger samples to get a better representation of mineral content/composition/quality of the soil.
The university Extension offers soil test and the rate varies on the state. It's an easy, science and research based test that is very reliable. Buy three different kits and get three different answers. Not all kits are helpful.
Wood ashes are excellent but should be used as soon as possible to receive the most benefit. Nutrients quickly dissipate, providing only a short term benefit.
By all means, add them to the soil and add other organic matter such a shredded leaves, grass clippings, shredded paper, wood chips, coffee grounds.
It is almost impossible to add too much organic matter, so keep adding organic matter, always mulch and, avoid soil compaction. Your clay soil will continue to improve every year.
We work in lots of good homemade compost. Not only does that improve the soil's tilth, but it also gets the pH at the level that's best for most plants.
I think a home test kit is quite effective for getting a read on the pH and, with more elaborate kits, the N-P-K as well. I agree w/ Patsy that adding lots of compost to clay soil is good to bulk it up and give it better aeration and drainage for your veggies. Well-composted materials are better than their coarse counterparts because of the carbon:nitrogen ratio. While a great source of potash, wood ash raises the soil pH, so you need to consider the types of plants you wish to grow and the current acid :alkaline profile of your soil .
All the best,
by Victoria Lynn 6 years ago
What is the best soil mixture for your garden?What is the best you've found? A mixture of soil and some kind of fertilizer? Store-bought or homemade compost? Peat? What else? What about garden soil such as Miracle-Gro? Please share your magical mix!
by Ben Zoltak 6 years ago
Home made indoor garden soil...how do you make it?I've heard it's not a good idea to take soil from outside and bring it in the house, but most of the indoor soil in my area comes with petroleum made fertilizers, I would like to make my own organic, with our kitchen compost and soil from outside,...
by Jason Menayan 6 years ago
How to Test Your Garden Soil for Contaminants like Lead & ArsenicPlease write a Hub detailing how to check if the soil in your garden has heavy-metal contaminants such as mercury, lead, or arsenic
by Jennifer Arnett 6 years ago
Why are coffee grounds good for your garden?I was at a coffee shop and they have a sign that offered free coffee grounds for the garden. Why do coffee grounds make good compost?
by anne manning 6 years ago
What can I do to get my raised vegetable garden filled with compost to produce well?I have a raised veg garden just over i/2 metre in height. It was constructed last Nov & filled with compost from the local landfill compost plant. I planted it & have been very disappointed in the...
by Patsy Bell Hobson 12 months ago
What do you add to the soil when the instructions say "add organic matter"?Add organic matter can mean kitchen scraps, cotton meal, grass clippings, hay or horse manure. What do you use to add organic matter?
Copyright © 2018 HubPages Inc. and respective owners. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages® is a registered Service Mark of HubPages, Inc. HubPages and Hubbers (authors) may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.
|HubPages Device ID||This is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.|
|Login||This is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.|
|HubPages Traffic Pixel||This is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.|
|Remarketing Pixels||We may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.|
|Conversion Tracking Pixels||We may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.|