Category Archives: Soil

Growing Mustard as a Cover Crop

Mustards and other brassicas have a nematode-suppressant quality when they decompose, so I am trying them as a cover crop treatment to suppress (or eradicate) root knot nematode. Variety: Agricultural Mustard Brassica sp. Supplier: Bountiful Gardens From the supplier: suppresses weeds, nematodes, and soil diseases, cycles nutrients, increases tilth. Also high protein forage (and my chickens […]

Soil Testing

Every season, with every plant you grow, nutrients are used up or leached out by water. Doing a soil test when preparing for the next season is the only way to know what nutrients need replenishing. Sampling Your Soil Whether using a home test kit or sending your soil to a lab, your soil test […]

Organic Matter

Organic matter is the result of decomposition. Composted materials are organic matter. Humus is the stable endpoint of decomposition for organic material. Not a lot is known about humus, chemically. It is incredibly variable, so it’s hard to analyze. Basically it is the remaining resistant bits leftover after all of the easier to rot stuff […]

Cationic Exchange Capacity

The soil’s ability to store certain essential elements for plant growth is measured by its TOTAL CATIONIC EXCHANGE CAPACITY. Elements that are positively charged when in their ionic form are called cations. Here are the cationic elements of interest for plant growth: Calcium (Ca++) Magnesium (Mg+) Potassium (K+) Sodium (Na+)  Copper (Cu++) Iron (Fe+++) Manganese […]

Plant Nutrition 101

Essential Elements There are 13 essential elements for plant growth: 6 are considered Major Elements:  Nitrogen (N) Phosphorous (P) Sulfur (S) Potassium (K) Calcium (Ca) Magnesium (Mg) 7 are considered Micronutrients: Iron (Fe) Manganese (Mn) Copper (Cu) Zinc (Zn) Molybdenum (Mo) Boron (B) Chlorine (Cl) These elements are primarily taken up through the roots Root […]

Soil Structure & Composition

Soil Composition Living Matter Mostly in the top 4″ of the soil. Good guys & bad guys…but large volume & diversity control the trouble makers by making it a competitive environment for resources. 1 teaspoon of soil contains: 1 billion bacteria several yards of fungal hyphae several thousand protozoa few dozen nematodes Bacteria attracted by […]

Nitro Persian Clover Cover Crop

Last weekend I planted Nitro Persian Clover for a cover crop in two of my vegetable beds. The first bed was where I grew corn and summer squash. The second bed contained potatoes, garlic and shallots. Cover crops are a great way to replace the nutrients lost from your vegetable gardening. They also protect the […]