Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Class #3: We're famous!

Well some of us are. Others of us missed our chance at fame (boo hoo) because we were hidden away in the greenhouse transplanting seedlings.  Shucks!  Fortunately the class was not a complete loss.  We did learn a few things about Soil Chemistry and some of us (the ones in the greenhouse anyway) were highly productive.

One or two things about soil....

Remember "Adama": earth, soil, blood.

Soil has physical properties (class 2) and chemical properties.  Physical properties are always stable, chemical properties are always changing.

As with all things, healthy soil is a matter of balance: light/dark, wet/dry.

Soil is the bridge between the mineral world and the organic world.

You can test soil by "pinging" it.

Remember: 25% air, 25% water, 45% minerals, 5% organic matter.

If your soil is too sandy (doesn't hold water or nutrients) or too clay (holds too much water and nutrients that are too tightly bound to be accessible to plants) you can improve it by adding ORGANIC MATTER (compost).

Have as little bare soil as possible (mulch).

Soil texture (composition) is fixed, soil structure (how soil behaves) is mutable.

Wondering if your soil is alive? Add peroxide. If it bubbles, you've got bacteria, yey!

Atkinson called NPK "death itself": it's not about individual ingredients, it's about the wholistic composition!

Elements are building blocks, they can't be broken down any further.

You need a balance (there's that word again) of positive (alkaline/sweet) and negative (acidic/sour).

CATIONS: potassium, magnesium, calcium: metallic, durable, lasting
ANIONS: nitrogen, sulfur, carbon, phosphate: soft, mutable.

Nitrogen makes protein, carbon makes carbs.

MACRO nutrients (need large amounts)
primary= NPK
secondary=calcium, magnesium, sulfur

MICRO nutrients (just as important but only need trace amounts: KELP is best source)
boron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, zinc

Feed soil, not plants.  Keeps the nutrients cycling.

pH tests how soil performs (potential of hydrogen)
low = acidic
high= alkaline

According to the Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening:
"organic matter is the great equalizer, a storehouse of nutrients that improves tilth and structure, improves water holding capacity, improves nitrogen fixation and makes other nutrients available" AKA "it oils the wheel"

Rice straw (no seeds) makes great mulch.

Wow! Did you get all that?!

Wendy's a 6 kind of gal

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