Guides to Soil Management
Soil is the heart of every farmer’s or gardener’s business, except if you are using a hydroponic system in farming. Good soil is a secret to healthy crops and the more you know your soil, the better. Beneath our feet, are the organic matters that feed us. These organic matters are worms, good bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that work together to help crops thrive. Disturbing our soils or if we are not protecting them, these natural soil builders will have difficulty to become productive.
Here are four (4) guides that farmer’s must know in managing their soils:
1. Determine your soil. There are three types of soils, these are the following:
Clay is a soil that is composed of mostly clay particles. When clay contains a lot of water it sticks to your shoes and garden tools, however, when the clay is dry, it cracks. Clay holds more water and not suitable for other plants except for Fern, Aster, and some other flowering plants. You cannot plant your vegetable crops in clay soil.
Loam. This is the most ideal plant-growing medium because sand, silt, and clay together provide desirable characteristics. It generally contains more nutrients, moisture, and humus. It also have better drainage and infiltration of water and air.
Sand. It is a granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral practices. In contrast with clay, sands don’t hold any water and plants will not survive without water. Some plants thrive in a sandy soil such as succulents like cacti, sedum, lavender or euphorbia species.
2. Soil Testing
Why do we need to test our soil? We are testing our soil to determine what nutrients are lacking in our soil.
So, how will you test your soil? You can go to the Department of Agriculture in your respective country to seek their assistance in testing your soil. In the Philippines, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management are doing soil analysis. In the Ilocos Region, you may go to DA Region 1 . In India, you can go to the Farmers’ Portal for soil testing.
3. Nutrients Needed on your Soil
What are the nutrients needed on your soil? It depends on the crop you want to grow. Different crops have different needs. So, you need to know the nutrient needs of the crops you intend to grow.
The following soil nutrients should be present in your soil:
- Manganese and Zinc
4. Cover Crops
Cover Crops are planted in the farm to keep nutrients in the soil and improve soil health, and prepare the soil for the next planting rather than depleting it. Usually, they are not harvested because they deliver natural fertilizer to the soil, prevent erosion, and increase biodiversity. Their roots also create pores in the soil for better water infiltration.
10 Plant Management: Buying Seeds and Plants from a Garden Store
We want to buy plants, especially new gardeners, because it is easy and ready to be transferred to your garden. But there are important things that you should know when buying plants from a nursery. I hope these tips will help you get the best plants that will survive and thrive after buying them and to save your time and money.
How many of you have tried buying direct from a garden store? Yo must be patient when buying from a garden store because you need to inspect the plants you are bringing into your garden. The following are useful guides in choosing healthy plants in a garden store.
- Determine the type of plant you need. When you go to the garden store, you should know the type of plant you want to buy. Visualize your garden, where will you put the plant? Is your garden has full sunlight or semi-shade? If your garden has full sunlight, then you have to buy sun-loving plants. If partially shady, buy plants that do not require full sunlight.
- Be familiarize with the plants you are buying. You need to know the name of the plant,how to care for the plant, the type of plant whether indoor or outdoor.
- Pick healthy looking plants. Sometimes, garden store are spraying something to make the plants look good. In order not to waste your money, look and check closely the plants. Look at the back of each leaves if there are any pests. Look at the base of the plants. Don’t be fooled by good-looking plants, some of them are not healthy.
- Check for pests. This is important and you must give extra time and inspecting the plants carefully especially at the back of leaves because insects and pests are always hiding there. Check of any curled leaves and if there is, get another one. Remember, these plants may contaminate your garden.
- Check the soil. A good plants thrive in good soil. Check if the garden store used a well-draining soil for the plant and check whether the plant is watered adequately.
- Look around the garden store. Are the store clean and hygienic? This is important as some pests might be present in the plants you are buying.
- Check for weeds. Do not buy plants with plenty of weeds that means the garden store has poor maintenance.
- Buy fresh plants with healthy leaves and vigorous growth with flowering buds still not open. Do not buy plants in full bloom.
- Check if the plants was fertilized using chemical fertilizers. If they do, don’t buy them because you will have to sustain that and you will spent more money and beside it is not good for the health.
- Never stop asking questions to the garden store people. It is your right and you need to know everything about the plant.
Ideal Amount of Sunlight for your Vegetables
In order to survive and thrive, plants need three essential elements, these are water, a medium to grow, and sunlight. Sunlight is essential for photosynthesis and it only takes place during the day. Photosynthesis enables plants to produce food from sunlight. However, too much sunlight can kill our plants. As farmer and gardener, we must understand the needs of our plants. How much sunlight do they need to survive? Some plants require only 3-4 hours and some requires as much as 8 hours of sunlight. Here are the list of vegetables and how much sunlight they need.
Crop varieties that require a little amount of sunlight (3-4 hours per day)
Leafy vegetables do not require much sunlight. Plants such as arugula, kale, spinach, lettuce, parsley, cabbage and mustards require around 3-4 hours of sunlight a day.
Crop varieties requiring moderate sunlight (4-6 hours per day)
Tubers and root vegetable require moderate sunlight. Moderate sunlight means 4-6 hours of daily sunlight. The vegetables in this group include sweetpotato, potato, radish. Vegetables like broccoli and bell pepper also need moderate amount of sunlight, Radish, and potato require medium sunlight. They require around 4-6 hours of sunlight per day.
Crop Varieties requiring sunlight for longer time(at least 6-8 hours per day)
Plants that bear fruits need a lot of sunlight. When fruit bearing crops do not get enough sunlight, the fruits will be small. Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, cucumber, beans, squash are some of the vegetables that love the sun so much that they require at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
If you will buy seeds, make sure that the sunlight requirement is written at the back or at least ask your seller in order not to waste your seeds. However, just remember that leafy vegetables require low sunlight (3-4 hours), roots vegetables require medium sunlight (5-6 hours) and fruiting vegetables require high sunlight (6-8 hours). For your information, a full sunlight is 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Partial sun/partial shade is less than 6 hours of sunlight and Shade means no direct sunlight.
For people who are not aware where sun rises, it always rises in the east and sets in the west. The sun is most intense between 10:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon.
While sunlight is essential to most of the plants, there are also vegetables that you can grow without full sunlight.