Saturday, September 08, 2007

Using soil admendments to improve your soil yes or No

The problems with using soil amendments include the fact that many
times seeds, bugs, and diseases are introduced into peoples' gardens
by using unsterilized compost and/or manure.

Also, using soil amendments as your only source of plant nutrition
is almost sure to leave your plants with deficiencies. Why?
1) the plants used for the compost/manure may or may NOT have had
complete balanced nutrition themselves,
2) If the plant is eaten as much as 50% of nutrition stays with the
animal, and
3) more nutrition is lost in the composting process.

It's likely that any organic amendments you use only have 25% of
what the plant origionally had.

AND, you have NO IDEA about the balance of the 13 nutrients that are
needed for healthy plants.

That said, PLEASE do NOT think I am against using healthy clean
plant residues in the soil. Far from it! Corn stalks are an
example of plant residue that is usually clean and re-usable, but
there are others as well. Just make sure they ARE clean and don't
have bugs, seeds, and diseases in them. If they do have those
things, remove them from the garden area immediately.

I strongly recommend that Eric (and anyone else who has it) use his
corn stalks in his soil beds. Here's how:

1) Immediately after cutting fresh stalks, and while they are still
green and have moisture in them, put them back into the ground.

2) Dig a couple of nearby 18"-wide soil-beds to a depth of 1 foot,
piling the dirt neatly to the side of the beds as you go.

3) With a good chipper/shredder, chop the corn stalks finely and
place them in the bottom of the soil-beds several inches deep.

4) Replace the soil on top of the corn "silage" and leave for a few

5) Till the beds to mix the composting corn stalks with soil
throughout the beds.

6) Leave through the winter, then re-build the beds as usual in the

Do this with your clean plant residue in the fall, and your soil
will be more enjoyable to use next year (soil tilth), and you will
even improve the available nutrition somewhat. But don't stop

Jim Kennard

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