The Dirt On Your Garden Gloves

To paraphrase Einstein, light particles roar through space at 700 million mph.  Our green garden friends capture light then extract its energy allowing us worry about more than our next meal.  Plants do not live on light alone, they munch dirt, or for garden purists out there, soil.  The depth of garden soil should be 12-18” though Square Footers use 6”.

Our Cross Timbers area features dense clay soils that, wet or dry, form curse-inducing lumps.  Prove me wrong.

Good soil has roughly equal parts of clay, silt, sand, and organic matter like decomposed manures or plant parts.  Live roots penetrate soil to slurp its water and nutrients, so gardeners amend clay soil by (a) adding missing parts or (b) carting in good soil.

Garden suppliers sell good soil named landscape mix.  Fruits and vegetables don’t turn down amendments with their landscape mix.  Good soil doesn’t flow like hourglass sand or beg for Michelangelo’s hammer and chisel, it crumbles.  Building good soil is an art worth cultivating.

Water’s ability to dissolve minerals to feed plants depends on the amount of acid or alkali in the soil. Some plants like acid soil’s cuisine, while others like alkali soil’s menu.  Forest dirt is acid; desert dirt is alkaline.  Most fruits and vegetables favor a balanced mix.  If your plants don’t look healthy take a soil sample to a nursery for testing.  It’s cheap, they’ll give you advice, and your malnourished plants will love you.

Plants eat soil so maintain your dirt depth by adding tasty amendments when the spirit moves you.

Kitchen waste is a garden’s treat.  I bury the stuff directly in my garden. North central Texas’ summer heat is a lazy composter’s best friend.  I collect kitchen waste in a covered bowl all week then on Saturday morning I hoe between garden rows, sprinkle the waste in the ditch then cover it with plenty of soil, and give it a good drink.  The raw waste disappears in a couple of weeks.

Two words to the wise: (1) Worms run from citrus, so wash citrus leftovers down the disposal.  (2) Meat-eaters’ offal contains pathogens that make American insides sick, so limit your amendments to plant matter, and vegetarian animals’ manures.

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