The soil is the foundation of a high yield
Last week, at a seminar in Belarus, my colleague from the Institute for Plant Protection told the story of how she was invited to one large farm to introduce new, advanced methods of protecting against pests and increasing productivity. However, the soil was so depleted and neglected that the plants simply tried to survive and yielded a very meager crop. Therefore, subtle technologies and methods have proven futile.
This story led me to the idea that we often try to use new, non-standard techniques to increase the yield of our garden crops and horticultural crops, sometimes forgetting about the basic, fundamental conditions for the formation of a high crop. The main one is the soil on which the plants grow, its composition, structure and availability of essential nutrients.
Let's try to summarize the basic simple techniques for assessing the quality of the soil and increasing its fertility, which gardeners and vegetable growers could use. The same could be useful for landscape design, since the range of plants used here is much wider. Perhaps for many they will seem trivial, but their combination will provide a healthy basis for the future crop.
Take a close look at the soil in your garden; if necessary, dig a hole. The land on your site consists of stones (gravel), sand or clay, rotting organic matter, and possibly chalk.
Check your soil type
Take a little soil from a depth of 7-15 cm (the lighter the soil, the more depth samples must be taken). Squeeze the sample in the palm of your hand;
- if the soil sticks together in a sticky lump, gets dirty, it means clay;
- if the soil is compressed well, but the lump is not sticky and not shiny, then this is fertile soil;
- if the samples crumble - this is sand, the presence of white pebbles in it means that the soil is calcareous.
Stones and sand.
A high percentage of stones, gravel or sand means that although the soil is well drained, it is very poor in nutrients. Organic fertilizer additives are needed.
It is difficult for plant roots to get moisture from such soil, and the upper fertile layer is usually thin. Dig this soil to a depth of 60 cm with compost or organic fertilizers.
Particles of such soil are flat, they stick together and retain moisture like two sheets of glass, laid one on top of the other. Such soils are rich, but in the summer, they sinter in the sun, and are slippery in the fall and spring, which makes drainage difficult. The addition of lime (calcium hydroxide) or gypsum (calcium sulfate) is able through the flocculation process to crush such soil by placing granules between the plates, facilitating its processing. Unfortunately, the improvement of such soil will not last long and will not penetrate deeply, the process must be carried out regularly, not forgetting to saturate it with compost and organic matter.
Acid-base composition of the soil
The soil is acidic, neutral or alkaline, which affects the growth of plants, their resistance to diseases and productivity. The level of acidity is measured in terms of pH: 4-5 - acidic, 7 - neutral, 8-9 - alkaline. Extreme values are bad for plants; the best is about 6 pH. Peaty soil is almost always acidic, calcareous - alkaline. Soil acidity can be determined in various ways. Still acquiring a site, take a closer look: viburnum indicates alkaline soil, and bracken - acidic. The best results by definition are obtained using a special device - a pH meter, however, satisfactory results are also obtained by special test strips of paper that change color in an aqueous soil solution.
It is relatively easy to make the soil more alkaline by adding lime, usually it is applied in the fall. It is much more difficult to make the soil more acidic; manure application helps. However, it is better to plant plants (especially decorative ones), in accordance with the natural restrictions that the soil creates.
An important quality of the soil is its availability of nutrients, we will talk about this in one of the following publications.