In this video we discuss how to make your own organic garden, and we discuss soil.
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Hi! I am Tim MacWelch of Earth Connection School of Wilderness Survival and Ancient Skills near Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is our video clip series on Organic Gardening. In this clip, we're going to talk about the importance of soil and how to test it? Soil is the most important thing you can grow in your garden. I hate to be melodramatic but this is the crop you should be growing, good soil. It takes nature about 2000 years to make one inch of good top soil, but with good organic gardening practices we can do that in our lifetimes. We can grow an inch of good top soil in 50, 60 or 70 years by adding to the soil every year, we add something back. We add compost, we add cover crops and tilt them in, we do lots of different things to recharge the soil, to make up for what we take away every time we harvest a vegetable. So the importance of soil cannot be understated, it is the most important thing you can grow. Different soils require different things to be added to it, some soils are not good for all types of gardening. Here where I garden, I've a lot of clay in my soil and I've done stuff to amend that and we're going to talk about soil amendments in a subsequent clip. But right now, we're talking about how important the soil is, and organic gardening is good for the soil, there is no doubt about that, there is no question there. Organic gardening keeps the soil in one place. We're taking soil with conventional gardening methods and choppen up big huge fields of it and it washes away every time it rains. So top soil is lost from large scale commercial agriculture, but with small scale organic home garden your soil stays in the same spot, sometimes a little bit washes down hill when it rains and all we have to do is scoop it up and throw it back up into the beds, but by maintaining raised beds and good walkways and working with the slope and lay of the landscape we don't have too much erosion. We're also adding nutrients to the soil by growing different crops like compost crops. If we grow clover all in and around our vegetables they add to the soil and they build it up by adding nitrogen. Clovers are legume, they are member of the pea and bean family and they have nitrogen fixing bacteria on their roots. Well, these little bacteria just hang out and suck in nitrogen and make it fixed, they make it acceptable for other plants to consume. The clover makes more nitrogen then it needs. So the excess is going to remain the plant and in the soil. Any time we chop up or till in those clover plants we are putting back nitrogen that the other plants take away. So there are lots of different organic practices which can make the soil better. We are going to show you a little bit about compost in a subsequent clip and compost is another great thing to add to the soil. This No-Wait soil test kit can be used to test for the pH. Now pH is the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. It's a scale of 1-14. 7 is neutral, 7 is right in the middle and its neither acid nor alkaline. Most of our garden soils that are very good and productive are a 7 or just a touch acidic, maybe 6.5 on the pH scale. So with this test kit we can test for pH and we can also test for the nitrogen content. Nitrogen makes your green growth, your leaves and stems and stocks and the majority of the plant above ground. So if it makes that it's very critical because we need all of that different plant growth to generate the flowers or the roots or whatever we are after on that vegetable. So nitrogen is tested in this kit. Phosphorus is the next nutrient that's tested in this kit. Phosphorus is responsible for the flowers and the fruit. So a lot of our vegetables are either a flower or a fruit and the phosphorus is what they need to grow and the final nutrient that this test kit looks at is potassium. Potassium is necessary for good root growth and some plants like potatoes and sweet potatoes and carrots require a lot of potassium for their generous sized roots. So by u