A Journey to Grow a Little Food Close to Home

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Growing Dirt #2

Now that you've had a chance to listen to what some growers around the nation are doing, let't get down and dirty :-) with dirt!

Dirt basically comes in three varieties:

Sandy (on the left), Loam (in the middle), and Clay (on the right)

Sandy soil is just that - full of sand. It's typically a dry soil because all of that sand makes all of the water run out. Along with the water, all of the nutrients tend to wash out too. This makes it tought to grow plants. Also, because the soil is so 'loose,' plant roots have a tought time hanging on and, again, plants don't grow well.

Clay, on the opposite end, is a very wet soil because clay tends to hold water like a sponge (remember how moist the clay was that you made pots out of in grade school). All of this water added to the soil composition itself makes clay very heavy and very hard to push roots through. You guessed it - plants don't grow well!

Loam, being right in the middle of sand and clay, is just about perfect for plants. It has a perfect mix of organic material (peat) minerals (silt), sand, and clay. This is the stuff that plants want and it's the stuff that growers have to provide to their plants.

You can test your soil consistency with the 'squeeze test.' Pick up a handful of soil and squeeze it hard. If it looks like this when you open your hand...

... you've got sandy soil.

If it looks like this...

...you've got clay.

If, though, when you open your hand you find a rich, black, crumbly wonderfullness like this...
...you've got loam!!!

So, your probably wondering, if I don't have loam, how am I going to get it? Stay tuned...

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