Get Ready for Outdoor Growing II SOIL

Once you start your seeds you need to make sure the soil where you are going to grow your plants is suitable. If not there are countless soil amendments from HTGSupply.com that can make sure your outdoor garden thrives as well as your indoor.

First thing I would do is see what your soil is made up of. Basically soil is made up of four things, sand, silt clay and organic matter. An easy way to test this is to get an empty olive or pickle jar, put some soil from where you will grow in the jar about 1/3 full, put a drop of dish soap in the jar (to help particles separate) and then fill the jar to the ¾ mark with tap water. Put on the lid and shake vigorously. Let the jar sit over night.

In the am, you should notice different layers. The bottom layer will be sand, the middle silt and the top whitish layer is clay. You may have small bits of ‘things’ on top of the clay, that is organic matter. Also, if the water above the soil is dark like tea, that too means you have some organic matter. Measure the total height of the dirt, then divide the total height by the height of each type of particle. The number you get is the percentage of each particle type

EXAMPLE. You have 6 inches of total soil. If you have 4 inches of sand, 1.5 inches of silt and 0.5 inches of clay you divided 4/6 and 1.5/6 and 0.5/6 you have 66.6% sand, 25% silt and 8% clay. This soil would need Coir or some other form of organic matter like compost.
I say this because if you have mostly sand the soil will tend to dry out so you will want to increase water retention. If you have mostly clay, you could add organic matter like coir which helps drainage, but you can also add sand, perlite or vermiculite. With clay (also called heavy soils) you need to increase drainage and help the roots to grow.  If you have near equal parts of sand and clay with some organic matter, you are ready to plant as is.

Another really cheap soil amendment is lime. You can get a 50lb bag for a few dollars and it makes the soil pH great for plants and will add Ca and Mg too.

Good Growing
Dr. E.R. Myers

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