The Science of Soil
Can you dig it?
By Kevin Holyoak, Master Gardner
Soil is more than a medium to support plant life, it is the foundation for all life. Therefore, soil is critical to a gardener’s success. Ideal soil much contain air, water, and nutrients for plants to thrive long term.
SOIL TEXTURE refers to the individual or primary soil particles left after structure is removed. There are 3 types of mineral particles found in soils:
1) Sand – Feels gritty. Composed of particles .05 to 2 mm
2) Silt – Feels smooth and is .002 to .05 mm
3) Clay – Feels sticky and is smaller than .002 mm
Soils consisting of only one particle size are not ideal. A soil composed of 2 or more particles sizes is known as loam, and includes varieties such as sandy clay loam, silty clay loam, or silty sandy loam. However, the most desirable soil is a loamy soil, which contains all 3 size of particles and contains organic matter and secondary particles called aggregates.
This soil can provide the plant everything it needs to thrive. It will have physical support for root structure and provide an environment for air, water, and nutrients to be retrained.
A good soil structure also provides good drainage, which is important to ensure excess salts can be leached through the soil profile and out of the root zone. Drainage can be improved by adding organic matter, deep tilling, planing in raised beds, and installing drains in the soil.
Amending soils with organic matter is the most important thing you can do to improve any soil. The benefits of adding organics are increased water holding capacity, reduced compaction, improved drainage, nutrients for plants, and lowered soil pH. Composts and manures are good sources, but many also contain salts and weed seeds.
How much organic matter should be added to the soil? Apply a 2-3 inch layer of material if you are improving soil for the first time. Apply 1 inch per year for existing areas that have previously been amended.
DIG IN! Improve your soil this spring before planting anything and your garden will reap rewards all year long!
How can doTERRA essential oils help your garden?
doTERRA Essential Oils are 100% certified pure – free from all fillers or pesticides… and since they come from plants – they are ideal for plant care! Get the ideal pest control without any harmful toxins!
All-Round Insect Repellent Blend – TERRASHIELD
Fill a spray bottle with 8 oz of water and 15 drops of doTERRA TerraShield blend, then spay on plants
ORGANIC CUSTOMIZED PEST CONTROL
For specific insect problems, try mixing 8 oz of water in a spray bottle with 1/2 teaspoon natural soap, and 12 drops of the doTERRA essential oil from the guide below – remembering to shake the bottle frequently to keep the oil mixed with the water:
ANTS – Peppermint Oil (add a line to window & door seals)
APHIDS – Peppermint, Sandalwood, White Fir
BEETLES – Peppermint, Thyme
CATERPILLARS – Peppermint
CHIGGERS – Lavender, Lemongrass, Thyme
CUTWORM – Thyme
FLEAS – Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint
FLIES – Basil, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary
GNATS – Patchouli
MOSQUITOES – Lavender, Lemongrass
MOTHS – Lavender, Peppermint
PLANT LICE – Peppermint
ROACHES – Eucalyptus
SLUGS – White Fir
SNAILS – Patchouli, White Fir
SPIDERS – Peppermint
TICKS – Lavender, Lemongrass, Thyme
WEEVILS – Patchouli, Sandalwood
TIP: Thyme & Lavender oils are great for protecting all vegetables in the garden
Remember – A little goes a long way!
Essential oils are powerful, so apply to plants sparingly. Begin by spraying the solution on the plants, making sure to spray underneath the leaves as well as the top. You can also apply the solution with a brush if you want to be more precise in your application to a specific area. Several applications, every few days, may be necessary.