Soil Composition – How Good Is Your Dirt?
Soil supplies plants with the nutrients and minerals they need to survive. It also acts as the support structure in which they root. Determining the soil composition of your garden area and then making any needed adjustments is important to your gardens success.
Soil is composed primarily of minerals and organic matter. Minerals from ground rock and other solid materials and organic matter from decayed animal and vegetable matter form the basis of soil. The deeper one digs into the soil the less organic matter is found.
The size of the mineral components is very important to the soil. The ability of the soil to absorb water, it’s porosity and its tilth all depend on the size of the soil particles.
The texture of your soil is related to the size of the mineral particles in the soil. Pick up a pinch of soil between your fingers and rub your fingers together. Sand feels gritty, silt has a powdery feel and clay is hard when dried, slippery when wet and rubbery when moist. These three substances determine the texture of your soil.
Sandy soil will benefit from the addition of organic matter. This will help to bind soil particles and hold water in the soil. Clay soil also benefits from the addition of organic matter and the planting of sod crops
Soil composition also influences the temperature of your soil. Soil temperatures fluctuate just as air temperatures do to a depth of 20 inches. The temperature of your soil influences your gardening results in a number of ways. Germination of seeds is slowed in cooler soils. Cold soils tend to make it difficult for plants to absorb phosphorus from the soil.
Mulch will help regulate soil temperature . Mulching makes the soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The temperature of soil depends on the ease with which the heat can be conducted from particle to particle across the gap in the soil which contain air when dry and water when it is wet.
The temperatures of the top three inches of very dark soils will warm up much faster than those of light colored soil. Sandy soil heats up fastest, clay soil the slowest.
Determining your soil composition and amending it in any way necessary is the first step to planting your victory garden.
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