Good morning, everyone. As promised, today I will share with you where I sent my soil sample to be analyzed and where I’m going to send the test results in order to get a detailed prescription for amending my soil. I’ll also share with you how to take a proper soil sample. Soil Testing!
Being from New England, I can’t remember ever seeing a pill bug, or “rollie pollie,” until I moved south. When my son was about five years old, he was playing with some friends outside my apartment in Charleston. They were teaching him about “rollie pollies” – little dark gray insects that roll into a ball when you touch them. My son always hated insects, but he wasn’t afraid of these. In fact, he thought they were pretty cool. I found it interesting that these bugs were popular play things with the kids, but I never thought they had any particular benefit…until now. Rollie Pollies in the garden!
When I first started gardening here in South Carolina, I didn’t pay much attention to mulch. That first year, wood chip mulch was more for replacing the grass around my raised beds than anything else. However, after that first summer, I began to realize that mulch should be a very important part of my garden. Taking care of your soil with mulch!
During my monthly meeting of the South Carolina Herbal Society this week, we learned that “weeds” can tell us something about our soil structure. Most of these plants are actually wildflowers or herbs. Basically, what we call weeds are nothing more than wild plants. Plants are intelligent and have an underground communication system. They know where it’s best for them to grow. So, if we listen to them, we will know better what to plant in that soil or how to amend the soil to plant what we want.
During this week’s garden update, I mentioned how hard I had worked in the garden last weekend, but all I got accomplished was preparing the raised beds (and still have four more to do). Twelve hours of labor on five beds! What was I doing and why did it take me so long?
Anyone who has worked in a garden for a season or two is familiar with the major soil nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – or NPK. Fertilizer bags and bottles have the content of these nutrients written in numbers, such as 10-10-10 or 5-2-6. Many of us are also familiar with the secondary nutrients necessary for plant growth – calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. (See my post on Epsom Salt in the Garden for supplementing magnesium and sulfur organically.) Yet, few gardeners are aware that plants must also have eight micronutrients to grow and produce well, and most soil in the U.S. is deficient in many micronutrients. What are they?!
I’m sure most of you reading this realize that gardening is a healthy activity. It gets you out in the sun (so your body can make vitamin D), gives your body some exercise (planting, harvesting, weeding), and produces vitamin-rich, healthy food for you and your family. Gardening has also been known to make you feel better – giving you something to care for (and care about) and regaling your eyes with color and beauty. But, did you know that there is now scientific evidence that gardening also improves your immune system, increases intelligence, and decreases depression? Learn more!
When I attended a class on growing tomatoes earlier this month, registration included a free soil sample. Not one to turn down free gardening stuff, I took soil from seven of my fourteen beds and mixed it together for my sample. I just received my test results and discovered that I have excessive phosphorus (and calcium) in my soil! What happened?? And what do I do about it? Learn more!
As many active people know – including gardeners – epsom salt is great for a relaxing foot soak or a hot bath to soothe aching muscles. I’m sure there are more than a few of us out there who have turned to this remedy after a weeding marathon! But did you know that epsom salt is not just for sore gardeners? It’s also for sore gardens. Learn more!