Category Archives: Soil Preparation

Counteracting Soil Deficiencies

One of the side benefits obtained from using bulky manures and composts is that they provide a great variety of plant foods, not just the three major chemicals nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It is true that the other chemicals are usually present in sufficient quantity but this is not always so. When they are deficient there can be some spectacular results. Shortage of iron may cause leaves to go bright yellow; lack of magnesium or manganese can have a similar effect or magnesium deficiency may produce brown patches between the veins of the leaves. These particular shortages are most likely to occur when the soil contains a lot of chalk or lime and are due to chemical reactions in the soil which do not remove the iron or magnesium but make them insoluble so that plants cannot use them. If sulphate of iron or sulphate of magnesium (Epsom salts) is applied there may be an immediate improvement but the treatment may have to be repeated over and over again since the fresh supplies also get locked up through chemical interaction in the soil.

To overcome this difficulty, special forms of iron manganese and magnesium have been prepared, known as scquestrols. They are of varying efficiency and are fairly expensive, so if such deficiencies are suspected it is best to get expert advice on the spot before doing anything about it. Regular use of good animal manure or vegetable compost will help to prevent these difficulties both by returning such elements to the soil and by using up surplus lime or chalk and so preventing the conditions in which these deficiencies are most likely to occur.

Understanding The Soil

The soil type greatly influences the range of plants which can be grown. Most rhododendrons, for example, cannot tolerate chalky soil, while clematis absolutely thrive on it. The basic soil types are listed below, and all can be made to produce good crops or ornamental displays, given suitable soil management and improvement. LOAM The idealContinue Reading

Choosing and Using Fertilizers

Basic Slag. A slow-acting phosphatic fertilizer which also supplies lime. It is a steel-industry by-product and must be ground by machinery; the coarser the grinding the slower its action. Slag may remain in the soil for several years. Quality varies, and analysis may show anything from 8 to 22% phosphoric acid. Also the solubility, andContinue Reading

Best Organic Manures

Manure from Stable and Byre. Bulky manures of this type contain nitrogen, phosphates, and potash, but not in the right proportions for all plants. Consequently it is necessary to ‘balance’ these animal manures with appropriate chemicals. Animal manures, by virtue of the humus they produce, improve the texture of the soil, making light soils moreContinue Reading

Soil Cultivation Techniques

Digging. Technically this means turning soil over to the full depth of an ordinary spade, approximately 10 inches. First a trench should be opened across one end of the plot, 10 inches deep and about the same in width. The soil removed is wheeled to the other end. Then a further narrow strip is turnedContinue Reading

Tips on Digging Techniques

When a new garden is taken over, the question sometimes asked is : “ When is the best time to dig it? “ The general answer is : “As soon as you can “; but if the garden is not wanted in a great hurry, digging might conveniently wait until autumn. This would be forContinue Reading

Humus And Its Substitutes

Probably the most valuable part of stable manure is the decaying humus in it. Now that the time has passed when every gardener could have his share of stable manure, not only are chemical preparations being made as substitutes for the foodstuffs contained therein, but many firms are offering substitutes, based on some sort ofContinue Reading

Lime – The Key To The Soil

Lime is the key to the soil. It is not so important to know in what form lime can be applied, for almost any form of lime will do, and the cheapest local supply is generally the best to buy. Finely ground lime is ideal, since it quickly mixes with and sweetens the soil. OrdinaryContinue Reading

Animal and Artificial Manures

ANIMAL MANURES Where there is any choice, it may be noted that strawy horse manure and sheep manure are best on heavy land, while cow and pig manure are better on light sandy land. Chicken manure is best stored dry for a time before use. It is then used in place of stable manure, butContinue Reading

Keeping Soil In Good Condition

What most new gardeners fail to appreciate is that the actual quantity of food taken by a plant from the soil (apart from water, which is considerable) is very small, and that in soil which contains humus the essential foods are generally present. Plants rarely need half the fertilizers that ambitious amateurs shower on theContinue Reading

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