Monday, March 26, 2012

Demystifying Soil Amendments - Continued


Garden Bed Amendments V – Specialty Products for Garden Soil

Soil amendments are anything you can add to the soil to improve its nutritional value, water retention, drainage, structure and aeration to create a better environment for plant root development or increase or decrease drainage or slow soil erosion.  Soil amendments can also be considered products that you can use on top of the soil to retain moisture, slow erosion, manage weeds, moderate soil temperature, increase aesthetics and aid in plant growth.  They can be either organic or inorganic.     
 
Always follow the label for all products.  We strongly recommend you get a soil test before adding any nutrients to your soil.  This will give you a clear understanding of what might be missing from your garden’s soil.  You can use a company like Agricultural Soil Management, Inc. in Champaign, IL to do your soil test or go to http://urbanext.illinois.edu/soiltest/ for a listing of companies.

Some of the following products are easy to find at your local Independent Garden Center but others may be difficult to find stocked.  Some of these products have suitable substitution that your local Garden Center experts can suggest for you, but if you really have your heart set on one product or a brand of product, you can talk to them and they may be able to special order it for you.


Soil Moist
Soil Moist

Is a name brand for one type of polymer with water
storing capabilities to help reduce waterings
            We recommend this to be added to containers that
            are in a lot of sun
We also recommend this to be used in plantings where
regular watering may be difficult   


Mycorrhizae

Are microscopic fungi that help the root structure of plants take up water and nutrients for healthier plants that resist disease and insects
            Can be found as a granular or in a water soluble (i.e. Brand name Thrive) form
This product does not have any direct beneficial nutrition; however, it increases the plant’s ability to access nutrients in soil

Diatomaceous Earth for the Garden

Diatomaceous Earth
            Inorganic – but a natural mineral that is mined
            all over the world
Used as a pest management tool but will kill
beneficials too (it dries out both hard body and soft
body insects by getting into their respiratory systems, 
and for soft body pests such as slugs, it is like sharp
glass to them)
Used on top of the soil and as a line barrier
            Use in dry weather
            Often used in organic gardening practices

Milorganite

            It is a biosolid
Is a fertilizer that is natural 5-2-0 slower release
            It won’t burn
            It may deter deer and rabbits
            Used as a top dress for both gardens and lawn


Definitions

Top dress – to apply product on top of the soil or garden surface to either add nutrients, limit weed seed germination or weed growth, retain moisture, deter soil erosion, increase aesthetic beauty

Leaching – Water soluble plant nutrients are lost due to over watering or the soil’s inability to hold on to those nutrients for later use

PH – is the measure of acidity to basic from #1 to #14

PH neutral – is in the middle of the PH scale at #7

Slightly Acidic – to lower the PH

Slightly Basic - To sweeten the soil, to raise the PH often associated with lime products

N-P-K – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are often depicted as number on plant fertilizers (i.e. 10-10-10)






http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/colorchange.html









http://www.soilmoist.com/products/landscapers.php




Thursday, March 22, 2012

Demystifying Soil Amendments - Continued


Garden Bed Amendments IV – Products that change soil structure

Soil amendments are anything you can add to the soil to improve its nutritional value, water retention, drainage, structure and aeration to create a better environment for plant root development or increase or decrease drainage or slow soil erosion.  Soil amendments can also be considered products that you can use on top of the soil to retain moisture, slow erosion, manage weeds, moderate soil temperature, increase aesthetics and aid in plant growth.  They can be either organic or inorganic.     
 
Always follow the label for all products.  We strongly recommend you get a soil test before adding any nutrients to your soil.  This will give you a clear understanding of what might be missing from your garden’s soil.  You can use a company like Agricultural Soil Management, Inc. in Champaign, IL to do your soil test or go to http://urbanext.illinois.edu/soiltest/ for a listing of companies.

Some of the following products are easy to find at your local Independent Garden Center but others may be difficult to find stocked.  Some of these products have suitable substitutions that your local Garden Center experts can suggest for you, but if you really have your heart set on one product or a brand of product, you can talk to them and they may be able to special order it for you.


Rice Hulls
Renewable resource that is not environmentally disruptive. However, it is usually produced outside the U.S.
            Decomposable
            Creates air pockets and increases porosity for both air and water channels
            Increases drainage
            Has some water holding capability
            Lightweight
            Some brands have OMRI label for organic growing
            Keeps soil loose and not compacted but for a short period of time

Green Sand
Inorganic – but a natural mineral that is mined         
May be used in Organic Gardening
It is rich in trace nutrients
Helps loosen compacted soils
Will not burn plants and can be used at any time of the year either incorporated or as a top dress
            It is a slow release fertilizer supplying micronutrients

Horticultural Charcoal
            Some people say it may absorb impurities; there is very little evidence for this claim
Used in the garden will improve drainage
            Often used in terrariums or indoor houseplant containers that have no drainage

Pebbles/Stone
            Inorganic – but occurs naturally in nature
            Used as a top dress to lessen weed growth and help soil erosion
            Increases aesthetic beauty as a decorative soil covering
            Creates drainage or increases drainage both in the garden or in containers
            Used as pathway material
            Will add weight to lightweight containers to keep them from tipping over

Vermiculite (Garden Grade only)
Inorganic – but a natural mineral that is mined
Comes in fine, medium, and coarse (medium and coarse are usually what is used in gardening)
“Square Foot Gardening” practices made famous by Mel Bartholomew requires it in his method
Lightweight
Adds no nutrients to the garden but Retains added nutrients for later use by the plants
Retains moisture
Increases drainage
Keeps soil loose and not compacted

Perlite
            Inorganic – but a natural mineral that is mined all over the world
            Slow to break down
            PH neutral
            Helps retain moisture
            Creates air pockets and increases porosity for both air and water channels
            Lightweight great for rooftop gardens
            Adds no nutrients to the garden
            Keeps soil loose and not compacted
            Inert

Peat Moss
            Naturally occurring organic substance
            You want to purchase peat that has been harvested in a sustainable manner
            Improves water movement and air circulation of soils
            Holds twenty times it weight in water and slowly releases
            Can be used to bind sandy soils
            Reduces leaching of nutrients by holding them until it is used by the plant
            Keeps soil loose and not compacted for a certain period of time
            Can also be used as a top dress for new seeds such as lawn or wildflower areas
            Slightly acidic

Coir
Coir Coco Moss
            Fibrous pulp from the husks of coconuts
Renewable resource that is not environmentally 
disruptive. However, it is usually produced
outside the U.S.
Free of bacteria and fungal spores
Slightly acidic
Will retain moisture
Keeps soil loose and not compacted for a certain period of time
Creates air pockets and increases porosity for both air and water channels
Can be used to line containers or baskets to hold a potting medium in the container
Does have some minor nutritional benefit

Long Fiber Sphagnum Moss
            It is not peat moss but is a perennial plant that grows back
            Renewable resource
            Sourced in the United States
            Holds twenty times its weight in water
            Repels bacteria
            Used as a soil covering for container plants
            Used to line baskets or containers to hold potting media in the container
            Used to create a nice aesthetic look that is very natural
            Used as all or part of the potting media for some container plants such as orchids

Sand
Sand
            This is a naturally occurring material comprised of
            rock and some minerals
            It increases drainage and helps break up clay soils
Creates air pockets and increases porosity for both air
and water channel
Used as a top dress
May be used in organic gardening
           
 
Definitions

Top dress – to apply product on top of the soil or garden surface to either add nutrients, limit weed seed germination or weed growth, retain moisture, deter soil erosion, increase aesthetic beauty

Leaching – Water soluble plant nutrients are lost due to over-watering or the soil’s inability to hold on to those nutrients for later use

PH – is the measure of acidity to basic from #1 to #14

PH neutral – is in the middle of the PH scale at #7

Slightly Acidic – to lower the PH

Slightly Basic - To sweeten the soil, to raise the PH often associated with lime products

N-P-K – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are often depicted as number on plant fertilizers (i.e. 10-10-10)






http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/colorchange.html









http://www.soilmoist.com/products/landscapers.php



Monday, March 19, 2012

Demystifying Soil Amendments - Continued

Garden Bed Amendments III - Compost

Soil amendments are anything you can add to the soil to improve its nutritional value, water retention, drainage, structure and aeration to create a better environment for plant root development or increase or decrease drainage or slow soil erosion.  Soil amendments can also be considered products that you can use on top of the soil to retain moisture, slow erosion, manage weeds, moderate soil temperature, increase aesthetics and aid in plant growth.  They can be either organic or inorganic.  Some of the following products or components can have multiple tasks that they perform in your soil. However, I have tried to categorize them into their main function.

Always follow the label for all products.  We strongly recommend you get a soil test before adding any nutrients to your soil.  This will give you a clear understanding of what might be missing from your garden’s soil.  You can use a company like Agricultural Soil Management, Inc. in Champaign, IL to do your soil test or go to http://urbanext.illinois.edu/soiltest/ for a listing of companies.

Some of the following products are easy to find at your local Independent Garden Center but others may be difficult to find stocked.  Some of these products have suitable substitution that your local Garden Center experts can suggest for you, but if you really have your heart set on one product or a brand of product, you can talk to them and they may be able to special order it for you.


Leaf Compost
Leaf Compost
            May be used in organic gardening
            May be purchased or you can make your own
            It adds organic material to soil
Creates air pockets and increases porosity for both
air and water channel
            Retains moisture
Keeps soil loose and not compacted for a certain
period of time
            Used as a top dress mulch

Cotton Burr Compost
            Loosens clay soils
            May be used in organic gardening
            Helps neutralize PH in soils
            Helps increase the beneficial Microbes in the soil
            Improves water movement and air circulation of soils
            Increases water retention
Manure
            Comes from all sorts of sources
Cow is the most common, but can include all sorts of herbivore animals like rabbit or goat
            Dehydrated, Composted or a Slurry are the various forms of manure
            May be used in organic gardening
            It may contain high levels of nitrogen and other nutrients
Provides food for good microscopic bacteria to feed off
It may burn plants if not used properly
Adds organic material to the soil
Manure that is properly composted should not smell

Manure Compost Blend
Is a blend of manure and other organic material mixed together (i.e. manure and composted peat)
Adds organic material to the soil
May be used in organic gardening
It may contain high levels of nitrogen and other nutrients

Mushroom Compost
Mushroom Compost
It is the growing media used to grow mushrooms at
mushroom farms once they harvest the mushrooms
            It consists of horse manure, straw, peat moss and 
            other organic material
Adds organic material to the soil
May be used in organic gardening
It may contain high levels of salts
It may burn plants if not used properly

Composted Chicken Manure/composted poultry manures
            Very high in nitrogen and contains phosphorous and potassium
            Extremely important to use thoroughly composted product
It may burn plants if not used properly
Adds organic material to the soil
May be used in organic gardening

Composted peat/humus
            Is slightly acidic
            Is decomposed plant material
            It adds organic material to your soil
            Helps retain moisture
Creates air pockets and increases porosity for both air and water channel
May be used in organic gardening

Definitions

Top dress – to apply product on top of the soil or garden surface to either add nutrients, limit weed seed germination or weed growth, retain moisture, deter soil erosion, increase aesthetic beauty

Leaching – Water soluble plant nutrients are lost due to over watering or the soil’s inability to hold on to those nutrients for later use

PH – is the measure of acidity to basic from #1 to #14

PH neutral – is in the middle of the PH scale at #7

Slightly Acidic – to lower the PH

Slightly Basic - To sweeten the soil, to raise the PH often associated with lime products

N-P-K – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are often depicted as number on plant fertilizers (i.e. 10-10-10)







http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/colorchange.html









http://www.soilmoist.com/products/landscapers.php

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Demystifying Soil Amendments Continued

Garden Bed Amendments II - Mulch

Soil amendments are anything you can add to the soil to improve its nutritional value, water retention, drainage, structure and aeration to create a better environment for plant root development or increase or decrease drainage or slow soil erosion.  Soil amendments can also be considered products that you can use on top of the soil to retain moisture, slow erosion, manage weeds, moderate soil temperature, increase aesthetics and aid in plant growth.  They can be either organic or inorganic.     
 
Always follow the label for all products.  We strongly recommend you get a soil test before adding any nutrients to your soil.  This will give you a clear understanding of what might be missing from your garden’s soil.  You can use a company like Agricultural Soil Management, Inc. in Champaign, IL, to do your soil test or go to http://urbanext.illinois.edu/soiltest/ for a listing of companies.

Some of the following products are easy to find at your local Independent Garden Center but others may be difficult to find stocked.  Some of these products have suitable substitutions that your local Garden Center experts can suggest for you, but if you really have your heart set on one product or a brand of product, you can talk to them and they may be able to special order it for you.

Most mulches will help regulate soil temperature by keeping the soil underneath it cooler.

Bark Hardwood
            This is made from the bark that comes off of the trees from lumber mills
            Use as a top dress mulch
            Slow to break down but then can be incorporated into the soil as organic material

Cedar Mulch
Shredded Cedar Mulch
            This is made from the cedar tree remnants 
            from lumber mills
            Use as a top dress mulch
            Slow to break down but then can be incorporated 
            into the soil as organic material



Cypress Mulch
            This is made from the cypress tree remnants from lumber mills
            Use as a top dress mulch
            Slow to break down but then can be incorporated into the soil as organic material

Landscape Fabric or Weed Barrier
            Fabric that may be biodegradable
            It keeps weeds seeds down by not letting weeds germinate
            May slow erosion
            May help soil retain moisture

Leaf Compost
Leaf Compost
            May be used in organic gardening
            May be purchased or you can make your own
            It add organic material to soil
Creates air pockets and increase porosity for both air and water channel
            Retain moisture
Keeps soil loose and not compacted for a certain 
period of time
            Used as a top dress mulch

Cotton Burr Compost
            Loosens clay soils
            May be used in organic gardening
            Helps neutralize PH in soils
            Helps increase the beneficial Microbes in the soil
            Improves water movement and air circulation of soils
            Increases water retention

Aged Pine Bark
Pine Bark
            Used as an organic soil conditioner
            Decreases nitrogen leaching
            Improves water movement and air circulation
            of soils
            Increases water retention
            Keeps soil loose and not compacted for a certain
            period of time
            Will last longer as a substantial mass than
            peat moss
            Properly aged pine bark can be difficult to find for
            the average gardener
            Slightly acidic
            May be applied as a top dress

Spanish Moss
            Is not really a moss, it is an Epiphyte (air plant)
            Usually used as a top dress for containers, frequently is used in the floral industry
            In the South, it is sometimes used as a top dress mulch
 

Definitions

Top dress – to apply product on top of the soil or garden surface to either add nutrients, limit weed seed germination or weed growth, retain moisture, deter soil erosion, increase aesthetic beauty

Leaching – Water soluble plant nutrients are lost due to over-watering or the soil’s inability to hold on to those nutrients for later use

PH – is the measure of acidity to basic from #1 to #14

PH neutral – is in the middle of the PH scale at #7

Slightly Acidic – to lower the PH

Slightly Basic - To sweeten the soil, to raise the PH often associated with lime products

N-P-K – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are often depicted as number on plant fertilizers (i.e. 10-10-10)







http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/colorchange.html









http://www.soilmoist.com/products/landscapers.php


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nutritional Amendment Chart


Demystifying Soil Amendments



The following blogs are going to be a five part series on Soil Amendments and Components.

Garden Bed Amendments I – Nutritional Amendments

Soil amendments are anything you can add to the soil to improve its nutritional value, water retention, drainage, structure and aeration to create a better environment for plant root development or increase or decrease drainage or slow soil erosion.  Soil amendments can also be considered products that you can use on top of the soil to retain moisture, slow erosion, manage weeds, moderate soil temperature, increase aesthetics and aid in plant growth.  They can be either organic or inorganic.  Some of the following products or components can have multiple tasks that they perform in your soil; however I have tried to categorize them into their main function.

Always follow the label for all products.  We strongly recommend you get a soil test before adding any nutrients to your soil.  This will give you a clear understanding of what might be missing from your garden’s soil.  You can use a company like Agricultural Soil Management, Inc. in Champagne IL to do your soil test or go to http://urbanext.illinois.edu/soiltest/ for a listing of companies.

Some of the following products are easy to find at your local Independent Garden Center but others may be difficult to find stocked.  Some of these products have suitable substitution that your local Garden Center experts can suggest for you but if you really have your heart set one product or a brand of product you can talk to them and they may be able to special order it for you.
 
Aluminum Sulfate
            Is a chemical compound
            Lowers the PH or increases acidity of gardens that are not used for edible plants
It increases the amount of nutrients that the plant takes up through its roots system from the surrounding soil
            Can be used as a soil additive or top dressed
            Always follow the directions, do not apply to foliage
            Used to change certain hydrangeas colors typically to a
            blue shade

 Garden Sulfur
            Natural occurring element
            Lowers PH or increases acidity in soil and can be used
            with edibles
            Used often in Organic gardening
            We recommend this product in blueberry production in
            our area


Agricultural Lime/Garden Lime/Agricultural Limestone
 It provides a source of calcium which is an important micro nutrient especially for plants like tomatoes and fall mums
It improves the plants ability to uptake other nutrients such as Nitrogen, Potassium and
Best to add lime to the top of the soil in fall or before planting in spring
            Raises the PH in soil
Phosphorous (N-P-K) in acidic soils
Naturally occurring mineral – Limestone ground
It increases water penetration into soil media





Dolomitic Lime
            Similar to Agricultural lime
            Is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined
            Raises the PH of your soil
Is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate
Both calcium and magnesium are necessary nutrients for some plants

 
Hydrated Lime
            Calcium Hydroxide is an inorganic compound created from limestone and water
            Raises the PH quickly in the soil, but may burn the roots of plants where it is used
            Please make sure your follow your instruction, we recommend Agricultural Lime instead

Ammonium Sulphate
            Is an inorganic salt compound
            Lowers PH or increases acidity
            Contains Nitrogen and Sulfur
            Quick and fast release of Nitrogen, be careful not to burn the plant
            To do this the organic way and slower we would recommend Blood Meal

Magnesium Sulphate/Epsom Salt
            Inorganic chemical Compound naturally coming from the Earth (Epsom, England)
            Helps correct chlorosis (yellowing leaves) of plants, it will make them more green
            May be used to correct magnesium deficiencies
            Lowers the PH or increases acidity of your soil slightly
            Helps plants absorb naturally occurring phosphorous in the soil and other nutrients
            Often used in organic gardening
 
Gypsum
            Is a sulfate mineral naturally occurring and can be created as a byproduct of
            sulfide oxidation
            May counter act salt spray damage from deicing agents applied to roads for winter
Helps bind organic matter to nutrients in the soil to prevent leaching and be available to the plant for later use
            PH neutral (7.0) but does help correct overly alkaline
            (high PH) or “sweet soils” 
            Loosens clay soils by allowing air and water to flow easier through
            Maybe used in organic gardening 
            Lessens soil erosion
            Adds calcium
            Won’t burn
          
 Dried Blood/Blood Meal
Releases nitrogen over four months so perfect for one season crops, please follow the label to avoid plant damage
            Provides a natural source of nitrogen
            Great for nitrogen hungry crops like leafy  vegetables
            (lettuce, 
            spinach, corn, brussel sprouts)
            Apply during growing season
Lowers PH or increases acidity
            May act as an animal repellent such as deer and rabbit
Do not apply to beans or legumes (i.e. soybeans) or other crops that take nitrogen out of the air and put it in the soil
May be used in organic gardening
Often used in compost pile
            Please follow the directions and do not over apply

 Iron
            When you have iron deficiencies you usually have high PH
            Lowers PH or increases acidity
It can be applied as a spray (liquid form is equally effective and is more commonly available) or a pellet which is usually commercially available

Chelated Iron
            Is often in a soluble form for spraying
            Slightly Lowers PH or increases acidity
            Is used as temporary fix for high PH soils
            Used to treat deficiencies causing chlorosis

Urea
This is often one of two nitrogen sources for commercial fertilizers (Ammonium Nitrate is the other but it is not sold by itself)
Promotes rapid greening and growth
This releases nitrogen very rapidly

Potash
            Is the name nickname for the old fashioned way of soaking plant ashes in a water pot
            Various salts that contain potassium either mined or manufactured
            Source of potassium for fertilizers
Potassium helps the growth of the plant, keeps the plant circulatory system healthy, and helps maintain the plants overall healthiness

Bone Meal
            It is made from crushed bones
            It is often used in organic gardening 
Often used for bulbs, roses and tomatoes
It is a good source of phosphorous and calcium for your plants
It is a slow release fertilizer

Fertilizers
            This topic will be covered at a later date thoroughly
May be organic, inorganic, natural or synthetic
            It is often added to the soil to supply nutrients to plants
            Can be a quick release, time release or slow release formulas
It contains the following macro and micro nutrients
six macro nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S);
seven micro nutrients: boron (B), chlorine (Cl), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), and zinc (Zn).


Corn Gluten Meal
            Made from ground corn
Various Universities including Iowa State University believes it could be used as a natural pre-emergence herbicide
            Slowly releases nitrogen and is often used on lawns






 



Definitions:

Top dress – to apply product on top of the soil or garden surface to either add nutrients, limit weed seed germination or weed growth, retain moisture, deter soil erosion, increase aesthetic beauty

Leaching – Water soluble plant nutrients are lost due to over watering or the soils inability to hold on to those nutrients for later use

PH – is the measure of acidity to basic from #1 to #14

PH neutral – is in the middle of the PH scale at #7

Slightly Acidic – to lower the PH

Slightly Basic - To sweeten the soil, to raise the PH often associated with lime products

N-P-K – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are often depicted as number on plant fertilizers (i.e. 10-10-10)

 
Informational Links:






http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/colorchange.html


http://www.organicgardeningguru.com/soil-care.html







http://www.soilmoist.com/products/landscapers.php