New to organics. Please help. Soil test included

tarheel_fan(7)July 19, 2013

I'm new to all this but want to go to organics. I am planning on putting alfalfa pellets on my lawn next week for the first time. Any advise on other organics I should be using. I really don't know how to interpret this soil test either other than my ph is ok and I lack in om.

Thanks y'all.

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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Did you sit down with your county horticultural agent to talk about these results?
Your soils pH is low, optimum for lawns is in the 6.2 to 6.8 range, and your Phosphorus is in the low optimal range.
What else you may want to know is how much organic matter is in that soil, how well that soil drains, what kind of life is in that soil, etc. and these simple soil tests can be of some help.
1) Soil test for organic matter. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. For example, a good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drainsâ too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 7:12AM
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tarheel_fan(7)

Is HM (humic matter) the same thing as OM? If so the front shows 0.27% and back shows 0.46%. This is why I was planning on spreading alfalfa pellets. I will do the jar and hole test ASAP. We have a lot of worms around here but that might be because the are constantly being washed over here from neighbors yard. I have a lot of clay 4 inches deep in the ground I know. I am going to wait for the ground to dry out some before I do the hole test. We have had 20 plus inches of rain since June first. My soil does smell earthy. I plan on spreading lime some time around the fall. Thanks for any help you can give.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 1:29PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Soil is basically composed of 3 particles, sand, silt, and clay and which kind of soil you have is determined by the mix of those soil particles. Most of what I have seen in North Carolina is clay, not a soil with a lot of clay, just clay.
"Fixing" clay soils is as simple as getting adequate amounts of organic matter, sometimes called humic matter, into the soil.
Keith Baldwin, then a professor of soil science at North Carolina State University, wrote an article in Taunton Press' Kitchen Garden about amending clay soils that said the only thing to will help a clay soil is organic matter.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 7:39AM
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west9491(6)

I agree I have been adding OM to mine for a few years now. Makes huge difference, and I still need way more.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 6:37AM
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