We have had a few questions about the difference between dirt, soil, compost and other amendments.
Here are a few tips for new gardeners and veteran gardeners alike. These are abbreviated notes from the talk, Gia Parsons will give on Sat March 3 10 am-11:30 am at the new LWIT, Redmond location.
-There are 70,000 types of soil in the U.S. alone
-Soil is made up of 4 main things:
Rock-there are minerals in rock
Organic Matter-all dead things
Air-many kinds of gasses
-Ideal soil contains 45 percent rock particles, 5 percent organic matter, and 25 percent water and 25 percent air in the spaces between particles
-Compost is decomposed plant matter like kitchen waste and rotting plants. It also includes dead shrubs, tree branches, and basically, anything living thing can turn into compost.
-Too much compost can cause problems including excess nutrient levels (too much potassium (straw), primarily nitrogen and phosphorous, high soluble salts (steer manure), and excessive levels of organic matter. (Levels of organic matter above 5% to 8% by weight are too high.)
Peat or Sphagnum moss-acidifying
Seaweed and kelp meal
Wood Ash-highly alkaline
Perlite-a volcanic rock
Vermiculite-a heated mineral
Dolomite lime-a rock (for raising the ph)
Azomite-minerals and trace elements
Sulfur-an element (for reducing ph)
Take Home Message:
With new gardens, better start with a soil test
Soil tests at King Conservation District
Established gardens, test the soil if you have not done so in a while
Add a variety of things to your garden but always in small amounts at first
Observe your results and make notes for the coming years.
If there are no issues, don’t make new ones!