Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Forget the Soil

Soil is an important component in growing plants that flourish into food producing assets. We all grew up knowing that plants need sun, water, and food. But, I bet your first grade teacher didn't mention that soil, the growing medium, is important so the plant's roots can dig down to establish a path for food.

Take Soil Samples

Autumn is the time to till up the soil, especially clay, so the winter freezes and thaws can help break it up allowing better seed germination in the spring. If you didn't take soil samples to your extension service in the fall, do it now. With a trowel, dig about six inches deep into the soil. You can either place each sample from the different areas of your garden in a separate bag or combine the soils for one test. The University Extension Service will send you a report that includes a list of nutrients to add next spring before you begin planting. The test will also determine the pH factor of the soil and recommend steps for making it more alkaline or acidic.

Amending the Soil

Adding manure or compost makes a richer medium for growing plants. Composting is a collection of decayed kitchen scraps and leaves. When added to the soil this organic matter puts nutrients into the soil. Spring is a great time to rototill this natural additive into the ground without having to maneuver around growing plants.

Another healthy addition to your garden is earthworms. They help aereate the ground and the castings are rich in nutrients for fertilizing the plants. (One morning a few weeks ago, my husband told me at breakfast he had just ordered 2000 worms for worm farming this year. I about fell off my chair at this news as he had not mentioned a word of it to me. Needless to say, we now have 2000 of the dear creatures living in a Rubbermaid tub feasting on shredded newspaper, kitchen scraps and coffee grounds. Currently they are residing in our guest bedroom---but don't tell the guests..LOL. When it warms up in Michigan, the worms will be relegated to the out of doors. Yes, you can be sure you will be hearing more about this new experiment.

Gardeners and Hope

Something new and different is always expected every year with my gardener husband. I have noticed that every gardener is filled with hope and anticipation with what the garden will bring each year. No matter how great or how terrible was last year's harvest, every spring he vows that this will be the best season ever. And this spring, like every other spring, I always think so too.

I am so glad that you are coming along with us on our gardening journey this year. Best wishes to you all for a productive and satisfying gardening season.

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