Just Take the Soil
As You Find It
A gardener must make up his mind to use
the soil he has. Of course, there is such a thing as
buying top soil and having it trucked in. But it is
expensive and not always satisfactory. So, what should
be done? Here is a sound pattern
- Pick up trash and have it hauled away
or bury it deeply (at least 2 feet).
- If it is a new home, the chances are
the contractor piled the top soil in a corner of the
lot. Spread it! It’s real hard work by hand but duck
soup for a small bulldozer.
- Now test the soil for pH (acid alkaline
balance). This is done with an inexpensive soil test
kit. There are several you can buy for a dollar or
two. If the soil is too acid, add the amount of lime
your test kit recommends. If your soil is too basic
(alkaline), add aluminum sulphate, iron sulphate,
or sulphur, according to local preference, working
into soil. Remember, it is well to acidify by degrees.
Usually you should retest six ~weeks after a soil
corrective application. Your soil may need another
- Now, get a handful of your soil. Feel
it! Is it spongy? Is it sandy? The ideal soil is spongy
enough to hold a good store of water-sandy enough
to crumble easily-has enough clay to hold the soil
together. You can adjust your soil to the correct
texture by adding a half inch of clay soil to a sandy
soil or 3 inches of sand to a clay soil, working the
material into the top few inches of your soil. Leaf
mold, peat moss, or other weed-free organic matter
can profitably be added ‘to most soils every few years.
Humus material is excellent -to condition soils that
crack badly in summer.
New chemical soil conditioners show promise
of being the solution to problems of excessively heavy,
clay-type soils. As this is written there does not seem
to be enough practical, over-all experience to warrant
a conclusive recommendation. We firmly believe that
chemical soil conditioners will play an important part
in gardening in years to come. Presently, we recommend
that you try only small experimental quantities if you
are troubled with heavy soils.