With grass cutting season upon us it’s a good time to start composting. If you’re like me and have reservoir of leaves that’s even better. Bringing the two together can result in mixture that produces a humus that is rich in nutrients and microbial organisms that will benefit your garden.
Compost was probably discovered when early settlers cleared land for cultivation, piling up brush and then realizing later that something was turning the plants and leaves into a rich humus. Today it’s become a science and we know very well how to build a perfect compost. What you should keep in mind is that there’s quite a bit of latitude in the process, and ways to compensate for a less than perfect pile. Continue reading →
While a soil test involves many important nutrients, the pH level is critical in optimizing the microbial activity in the root zone. This is especially important for organic gardeners because a proper pH will allow critical nutrients to be released as the plants mature.
Nutrient availability for soil pH levels University of Missouri Extension Service
As you can see in the chart, there’s a fall off of phosphorus availability as pH declines (or becomes more acidic – moving to the left on the chart). Root growth is dependent on adequate levels of phosphorus. We can also see how acidity affects other critical metals such as calcium and magnesium when pH drops below neutral (pH 7). These are among the macronutrients frequently cited as deficient in soil tests.
But altering pH can be difficult. Clay soils generally have a high degree of buffer capacity, meaning that the soil is resistant to change. Adding organic matter to the soil also increases both the buffer capacity and the acidity of the soil. While plants do well in soils ranging from a pH of 6 to 6.5, peak microbial activity occurs when the pH is between 6.3 and 6.8.
So why is this important? Continue reading →
Soil is comprised of sand, silt, and clay, and the combinations are nearly endless. Here in the Heart of the Ozarks – West Plains, Missourah – we have an abundance of red clay and a smattering of alluvial deposits along the creeks and rivers that likely contain small percentages of sand, variable amounts of silt and organic matter, but mostly clay. While the alluvial soils tend to be fertile they also require regular watering or heavy mulch to avoid drying and cracking.