Virtual Power of Produce Club: Week 5 Healthy Soil
This week we’re learning all about healthy soil, the home for all our vegetation. How frequently are you practicing soil care? There are different ways to care for the your soil depending on the type of clay you have in your garden. The three different types of soil are silt, sand, & clay. The desired soil texture is typically 1/3 clay, 1/3 sand, and 1/3 silt; this mixture is called loam.
How do you know which kind of clay your working with?
Follow these 6 simple steps below thanks to https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/building-healthy-soil/5060.html#:~:text=Work%20in%203%20to%204,of%20organic%20matter%20each%20year.
1. Fill a quart jar about one-third full with topsoil and add water until the jar is almost full.
2. Screw on the lid and shake the mixture vigorously, until all the clumps of soil have dissolved.
3. Now set the jar on a windowsill and watch as the larger particles begin to sink to the bottom.
4. In a minute or two the sand portion of the soil will have settled to the bottom of the jar. Mark the level of sand on the side of the jar.
5. Leave the jar undisturbed for several hours. The finer silt particles will gradually settle onto the sand. You will find the layers are slightly different colors, indicating various types of particles.
6. Leave the jar overnight. The next layer above the silt will be clay. Mark the thickness of that layer. On top of the clay will be a thin layer of organic matter. Some of this organic matter may still be floating in the water. In fact, the jar should be murky and full of floating organic sediments. If not, you probably need to add organic matter to improve the soil’s fertility and structure.
Once you have determined your soil type, see below how to improve your specific soil care.
To improve sandy soil:
- Work in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter such as well-rotted manure or finished compost.
- Mulch around your plants with leaves, wood chips, bark, hay or straw. Mulch retains moisture and cools the soil.
- Add at least 2 inches of organic matter each year.
- Grow cover crops or green manures.
To improve clay soil:
- Work 2 to 3 inches of organic matter into the surface of the soil. Then add at least 1 inch more each year after that.
- Add the organic matter in the fall, if possible.
- Use permanent raised beds to improve drainage and keep foot traffic out of the growing area.
- Minimize tilling and spading.
To improve silt soil:
- Add at least 1 inch of organic matter each year.
- Concentrate on the top few inches of soil to avoid surface crusting.
- Avoid soil compaction by avoiding unnecessary tilling and walking on garden beds.
- Consider constructing raised beds.
The POP Club activities this week include: taking a look at some more fun facts & activities with soil and composting, check out a video on composting, listen to the Diary of a Worm read aloud, make a soil terrarium, or write a thank you note to a farmer at the market!
Click below to print or download soil & composting activities:
Anyone wishing to bring a thank you note to the market can drop it off at the Info Booth or tag us on Instagram with a picture of your thank you note. We will letter your note and enter you to win our winter Pop club Prize!