Do It Yourself Soil Tests

Photo provided by Freephoto.com

Photo provided by Freephoto.com

One of the most important things you can do for your organic garden is to learn about your soil. This can help you to make your soil environment the best it can be for your plants. I found some great information in a post by Colleen Vanderlinden of About.com. Here is some of what she had to say:

Learning as much as you can about your soil will help you decide what needs to be done to make it ideal for the plants you want to grow. If you can learn about your soil’s texture, composition, drainage, acidity, and mineral density, you will avoid, up front, the disappointing results that can occur when your soil is unsuitable for your dream garden.

Soil Test #1: The Squeeze Test

One of the most basic characteristics of soil is its composition. In general, soils are classified as clay soils, sandy soils, or loamy soils. Clay is nutrient rich, but slow draining. Sand is quick draining, but has trouble retaining nutrients and moisture. Loam is generally considered to be ideal soil because it retains moisture and nutrients but doesn’t stay soggy.

To determine your soil type, take a handful of moist (but not wet) soil from your garden, and give it a firm squeeze. Then, open your hand. One of three things will happen:

  1. It will hold its shape, and when you give it a light poke, it crumbles. Lucky you—this means you have luxurious loam!
  2. It will hold its shape, and, when poked, sits stubbornly in your hand. This means you have clay soil.
  3. It will fall apart as soon as you open your hand. This means you have sandy soil.

Now that you know what type of soil you have, you can work on improving it.

By Colleen Vanderlinden, About.com

For more of Colleen’s great advice and the rest of her post, please visit her here. She walks you through three more tests that you can do to make your soil be the best it can be. When growing an organic garden, you want as many things in your favor as possible. You will already be getting several benefits from the things you grow organically.

What are your thoughts on improving your soil for your organic garden? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Why Choose Organic Gardening?

Photo by Craig Jewel

Photo by Craig Jewel, sxc.hu

There are several reasons that you may choose organic gardening instead of using other methods in keeping and growing a garden. One of the biggest reasons might be the choice to not use synthetic chemicals in your garden. When you grow an organic garden, you are not using any synthetic chemicals and many people find that to be very appealing. This is a great consideration of the environment and your health. Eating foods which contain synthetic chemicals can cause disease and ill health.

When you choose to grow an organic garden, you are choosing to not use any synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers in your garden or landscape. This is in consideration of the ecosystem that is found locally in your garden and landscape. Organic gardening works in harmony with the natural systems and helps to minimize and replenish continually any of the resources the garden consumes. The organic gardener adheres to the principle of feeding the soil instead of feeding the plant. If the soil is well nourished, then the plant will be able to get what it needs from that source.

In creating a balanced and healthy soil, the ecosystem is restored. This wil support many creatures which are soil dwelling such as beetles, grubs, worms, fungi and bacteria. An organic gardener will create this balance by adding organic matter to the soil. They will do this by using any locally available resources whenever and wherever it is possible to do so. This helps to create a habitat that is healthy and will support many different creatures that are found above the ground. These include creatures such as snakes, birds, insects and toads. The healthy habitat and the healthy soil will not only lead to plants which are productive and healthy, but will also lead to a healthier environment. The guiding principle of organic gardening is to do no harm.

Initially, the process of establishing an organic garden will probably be more expensive than not growing an organic garden. Your soils are probably depleted and will need to have their balances restored. However, in the long term, you will receive many benefits as you reduce the risk to your health and the environment. What are the reasons that you can think of to grow an organic garden?