Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Soil Recipe

In Texas we have a clay dirt; many gardeners including myself complain about it.  If you're new to this area it can be frustrating and intimidating to tackle the process to make this muck turn into something workable.

That was me the first year I tried to garden in Texas.  My kids were little at the time and I just didn't seem to have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I wanted.  I settled on a rose and herb garden.

My kids can't imagine a meal where herbs are not present.  I'm a firm believer if you want a garden but lack the time then start with herbs.  They offer fantastic health benefits that will keep you healthy!

Throughout the state of Texas you'll find different types of clay as well as ground.  Some areas have a very rocky base making it very difficult for gardening.  Here in North Texas we're blessed with clay but it's not the end of the world.  You can work with it if you have the right ingredients.

Regardless of where you live, look at your current soil base, evaluate your problem areas and perhaps this recipe with a few tweaks will work for you too.

Soil Ingredients 
 1/3 clay   1/3 sand 1/3 organic

Now let's talk about each one so you can discover how they all work together.  I'm keeping this simple smart, because when you break it all down it's common sense.

Ingredient #1
Clay is not our enemy; we tend to complain about clay because it sticks to our shoes when it's wet and when you dig a hole it takes every muscle we have.  We think it's endless and give up.

Clay has a purpose but it needs a few more ingredients to make it work.  Many don't understand the difficulty that plants face when trying to grow in clay. The hard clay cripples our veggies plants we like to grow because they have a delicate root base that cannot expand in clay.

What these plants need is a softer dirt consistency so they can stretch and produce. Clay does have value it holds the moisture in the ground which is important when our hot summers arrive.

Ingredient #2
Before I started gardening here we had 2 large dump truck loads of sand delivered.  Our family spread it into our almost 1/2 and acre field.

Why is Sand the #2 ingredient to our recipe?  It allows the moisture to circulate by breaking up the clay.  I didn't believe it until I saw it working and it was amazing.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where the soil was amazing to start with.  If you wanted a garden you just dug one up.  Here and other parts of the country you need a work ethic and ingredients to get you going in the right direction.

Ingredient #3
All natural and organic material is a must.  In the picture above I posted llama droppings and piles of dried leaves.  These are just a couple of examples you can add to your soil to increase nutrient levels.

As all gardeners know adding natural material is continuous.  Most gardeners add natural materials during the winter months; I do it year round and it's the key to my success.

I've written a couple other posts on manure and composting that you'll find helpful.
Finding Garden Manure  ~ Direct Composting

Gardening is a process like most everything we want to improve on in our lives.  Everything great begins with a good foundation so that we can experience great results.

 Even if the weather doesn't cooperate keep nurturing that soil.  In 4 years I've been blessed to experience an amazing transformation in the soil where I live and the effort was worth it.

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