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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hints on improving soil

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jenna Smith
Hopefully, you have started the process to have your soil tested at one of the local farm co-ops.

Once you get your test results back, remember to ask for help with any part of the results you are confused about.

If you took your sample to a local farm co-op, they will often help you understand your results.

Additionally, you can seek help from Purdue Extension.

Please remember each plant has particular requirements in terms of fertilizer and pH.

Most plants like the pH to range from 5.5 to 7.5.

If you need or decide to add fertilizer to your property, it is important to understand the tag on the purchased fertilizer bag.

The tag on a fertilizer bag has three numbers which are the percent of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).

Hence, a bag of 10-4-3 is 10 percent N, 4 percent P and 3 percent K.

Sept. 1, and Nov. 15, is the time to apply fertilizer to your lawn if you can only do it once per year.

You should never fertilize your lawn in April or May unless you want to mow a lot.

However, it is fine to fertilize your garden in April or May.

If you are not interested in adding fertilizer but want to give your soil a boost, you might consider adding compost or another type of organic matter to your soil.

At 5 percent organic matter, soil is black.

Most of our soils in the area are not black, so there is less than 5 percent organic matter.

Organic matter is responsible for soil resisting soil compaction and its ability to hold nutrients and water.

One should never add sand to a garden because when mixed with our native soil, types increase the likelihood of soil compaction and sand is poor for holding water while being incapable of holding nutrients.

One type of compost you might want to consider utilizing is manure.

Horse manure is one of the better manures to add to soil.

Adding manure to soil for building organic matter requires care be taken to not add weed seed from straw.

Poultry manure is very rich with nitrogen and can actually burn plants.

Try to add compost that has very little sawdust in the mixture.

Sawdust should not be added to soil because when one mixes this wood material into the soil, soil microbes starve the soil of nitrogen in an effort to decompose the wood product.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County, or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* April 19 -- Farmers Market Boot Camp, Terre Haute, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost is $15. Call 765-494-1296,

* April 21 -- Monroe County Master Gardeners' Garden Fair, Indiana National Guard Armory, Bloomington, Ind., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Cost is $2. Call 812-349-2575 for more information,

* April 21 -- Gardening for all ages, Hendricks County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. There is no cost to attend,

* April 24 -- Owen County Extension Board Meeting, Owen County Extension Office, and

* April 26 -- Youth Earth Day Program, Owen County Extension Office, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

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