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 application.
- 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.