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Tuesday, Feb 4
10:00 AM Grief Support Classes Offered By Hospice of Amador & Calaveras
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Thursday, Feb 6
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Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 01/20/2010 09:55 AM Updated by: Kim_Hamilton on 01/20/2010 09:56 AM
Expires: 01/01/2015 12:00 AM
:



January Time to Prepare Soil for Spring Gardens~by Ken Churches

A good fertility program is the best way to prepare garden soil for spring planting, and winter is the time to begin the process. Analyzing your soil is the starting point. Take soil samples at several locations in the garden to assess fertility levels. Take samples from six to eight inches deep, the depth most vegetable feeder roots reach. Mix the soil thoroughly for a good, representative sample and use a soil test kit available at local nurseries.....


Soil analysis results will show pH, and amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium in the soil. It will also include specific fertilizer recommendations for crops based on the soil analysis. Soil texture refers to soil particle size. Lighter sandy soils have fewer nutrients and lower water holding capacities than heavier clay soils. Clay soil usually drains poorly. Silts fall in between sands and clays in terms of particle sizes. Loams are mixtures of sandy and clay soils.

Most unimproved soils in the foothills are low in organic matter. Adding organic matter like compost will improve almost all soils. It will increase the water holding capacity of sandy soils and improve nutrient content. It will also improve drainage in clay soils. Most foothill soils are either neutral or alkaline in soil reaction or pH. The higher the pH, the more alkaline the soil. Alkaline soils limit the phosphorus, iron and zinc available for plant uptake. To compensate, apply phosphorus in a band directly below the seed row. Apply iron and zinc to the soil as chelates to make them more available or as foliar applications to the plants.

Plants use nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for optimum growth. Yearly compost applications will supply most of these nutrients to soil. Commercial fertilized can also be an important addition to weak soils. High sodium levels can block drainage. Adding gypsum or calcium sulfate to soil will often improve structure. During irrigation, calcium ions from gypsum replace sodium ions, causing soil particles to clump together and improve aeration and soil drainage.

This article adapted from Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, USDA. Please contact Ken Churches at cdcalaveras@ucdavis.edu or (209) 754-6475 with your agricultural questions. To speak with a Certified Master Gardener: Calaveras (209) 754-2880, Tuolumne (209) 533-5696, Amador (209) 223-6837, El Dorado (530) 621-5543.


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