Building Super Soil
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Testing the Soil
To get a good grip on your soil’s fertility, test the soil. Once existing nutrient levels and soil pH are determined, it’s easy to research what’s needed to appropriately adjust them. Soil tests are available from both independent laboratories (found online) and your county’s cooperative extension agency.
Most soil tests come with instructions for acquiring a representative soil sample. Retesting soil every few years is recommended. Soil testing is necessary to determine nutrient deficiencies or excesses, plus it provides an exact soil pH measurement and may reveal important information like organic matter content or the presence of heavy metals. (Consider these uncommon soil tests.)
An important note: The practice of regularly adding quality organic matter to the soil may eventually eliminate the need for any additional fertilizers. To generate peak fertility, create a healthy, balanced soil with great structure and plenty of active soil life.
Summing Up Soil
It can be said that an urban farm lives and dies by the health of its soil. Best management practices go a long way when it comes to soil maintenance, so remain constantly mindful of the objectives discussed above: Build good soil structure by regularly adding organic matter, habitually testing the soil, promoting beneficial soil life, handling soil preparation with care and making use of soil-enhancing cover crops. Soil preservation is not necessarily the most glamorous job on the farm, but it comes with huge rewards. Ultimately, the result of proper soil maintenance is a thriving city farm.
About the Author: Jessica Walliser is the author of Good Bug Bad Bug: Who’s Who, What They Do and How to Manage Them Organically. Jessica lives and gardens with her husband and son, two dogs, six chickens, two fish, and millions of good bugs on 2 acres just outside the city.
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