6 Easy Ways to Test Soil at Home

6 Easy Ways to Test Soil at Home

If you have a garden, then you must know how to import the soil is for the plants. Some plants grow better in the moisty soil, while some are better suited for the sandy soil. It is very important to know which kind of soil you have.

Moreover, if you want a different kind of soil for your plants, then you must prepare it like that. But first of all, you should know how to test your soil. An easy solution is to take some soil from the ground and taking it to the nearest lab. The lab can test the soil for you and give you a proper judgment.

But if you don’t have any soil testing lab in your locality, you could go for testing the soil in your home. Today, we will discuss how you could test soil at home. So, let’s begin, shall we?

6 Ways to Test Your Soil at Home

1. Analyze the structure

If you till the soil, you will see that the smaller components of the soil could of three forms – powdery, granular or cloddy. Nature and environment determine the soil structure. For most of the plants, the granular soil is the best option. Such kind of soil has lots of minerals in it.

So, how can check the structure? Just some lumps of soil from the garden. Each lump should be from the different area of the garden. Then break them into smaller parts using your fingers. The structure will be clear to you.

6 Easy Ways to Test Soil at Home

2. Penetrability

If the soil is penetrable for about a feet, it is considered really well. Such soil has porosity and better drainage system. This characteristic prevents water from standing on the ground. Clogged water is really harmful to the plants as they make the roots weaker and washes off the minerals from it.

So, take a wire and push to the ground. If the wire penetrates about a foot without bending, you could say that the soil has good penetrability.

3. Is It Too Stiff?

Plants hardly grow on hard sandy soil. Well, at least most of them cannot grow in such an environment. That’s why farmers till the land with a tractor to granulate the soil. The plate-like lumps are too harsh for the tender little plants.

Moreover, the roots cannot reach deeper into the ground if the soil is too hard. So, check out the hardness of the soil.

4. Earthworms

Earthworms are extremely helpful for your plants. They supply regular nutrients to the plants. Select a damp or wet place in the ground and dig about 6-8 inches deep. Now take out the shovel and look for the earthworms. If you can see about 3-5 earthworms, your soil is healthy and ready for plantation.

However, less than three earthworms indicate than your soil is too dry. Consider using composites and animal manure to increase the number of the earthworms.

5. Plant Extracts

Have you grown crops in your land before? If so then there should be plant residues in the ground. Such residues act as nutrients for the next batch of the plantation.

Dig about 6-10 inches deep with a shovel and search for plant extracts. If you can see the plants turning dark, you could say that your soil has a good decomposition rate which is a great sign.

6. Water Availability and Infiltration

Water is synonymous with life for the plants as well as all the living being. But there is an interesting fact. Too much water on the soil is equally harmful as scarcity of water.

The ideal scenario is the land has a plentiful water supply yet the water doesn’t stand on the ground. If so, the root of plants will become weak. As well as the water can wash away the important nutrients.

So, how could you check that? Pour some water on the root of the plant and wait. If the water level falls to more than 1 or 2 inches in an hour, you could say the soil is healthy.

Final Words

The integrity of the soil in your garden ensures how good the plants will grow out. So, you should always check out the quality of the soil before planting or hoping for a good harvest.

5 Easy Steps to Improve Clay Soil Fast

5 Easy Steps to Improve Clay Soil Fast

Clay soils are the killer for your plants. You might have great plants, or maybe the best kind of farming tools, but if your garden has clay soil, you are in bad luck mate! Clay soils are rich with clay particles. Meaning they would be rockier. Such kind of soil is extremely bad for growing plants. Most plants cannot grow in such kind of soil condition.

It is high time we found a solution for that. Don’t worry mates! We have some perfect solutions to make your soil rich again with nutrients in no time.

5 Steps to Make Your Soil Rich Again

1. Till It till It’s Fine!

You could use hand tillers or motor-powered tillers to break the hard surface of the ground. The trick is to pour water and till. Try to till them until the soil becomes powdery and granular. If you find big hard rocks inside, remove them. Continue this process of watering and tilling for a week. No matter what in these few days you will not let this land to compact. Don’t walk on the soil or drive a car over it.

5 Easy Steps to Improve Clay Soil Fast

2. Create a Compost Box

Clay soil doesn’t have much nutrition. So, in this step, you will create an organic compost box that will be mixed later on with the tilled soil. Take one square meter sized box. It could be made of wood or plastic or metal. Just pick a suitable one you could find.

Next, you will have to collect organic wastes. Animal manure, rotten leaves or plant leftovers. You could even add some chemical fertilizers that are rich in ammonia, iron, and phosphorus.

Okay, you are all set. Now mix the organic wastes and fertilizers with soil from your land. The mixing ratio would be 1:1. That means you will 50% soil and 50% other components. Now mix them properly and add water. Leave them be for 15 days. Don’t forget to close of the lid of the box. As it will be smelly.

3. Mix the Compost Material with the Soil

After 15 days, you land will be properly tilled, and the compost box will be ready. Now mix the components of the compost box with the soil properly. You could add water while mixing them. But remember the soil should not be clogged by water. Just enough to damp the soil. Till the soil for a few days more and irrigate every day. The soil should be rich enough.

4. Test the Level of pH

As you have finished the process, you should now check the pH level. You could find easy pH measuring strips in the local markets. The pH level can be from 0 to 14 where 0 means extremely acidic and 14 means extremely basic. We have to be in the acidic zone a bit. Our idea pH level should be 4-5.

5. Create a Good Irrigation System

Good irrigation is mandatory for every garden. But if you are suffering from clay soil, you need to pay even more attention to it. Your garden should be wet enough but not too much. When you supply excess water, you could clot the soils again which will lead to claying.

Again if you don’t water the garden, it will become dry and lifeless. So, you will have to make sure to water regularly, and at the same time, no water can stand on the ground. Design a good irrigation channel that will do the trick.

Final Words

Gardening in hard clay soil is hectic. Your plants will not grow in such a condition. Even if they grow, they will be unhealthy. So, you should try to add more organic composts and try to keep the soil powdery and granular.

How to Build a Home Backyard Aquaponics

How to Build a Home Backyard Aquaponics

Aquaculture is a really interesting thing to do for gardeners. Aquaponics is a combination of raising fish and growing plants in water. These two activities have their name too. Like raising edible fish is called aquaculture and hydroponics means to grow plants especially vegetable in water. This is a great trick where the land is too harsh for growing plants and farming.

You could even make your aquaponics in your backyard. It’s is not a hard job. As an aquaponics has its own ecosystem where the living entities are depended on the other members of the system.

How to Build a Home Backyard Aquaponics

Basic Materials Needed

You will need some essential items to make yourself the perfect aquaponics. They are –

  1. Water Tank
  2. Growing Bed
  3. Pumps and Pipes
  4. Aerator
  5. Fish
  6. Plants

Water Tank

The first thing you need is a water tank. The water tank will be used to make a perfect home for the fishes. Theoretically, the system can make habitat for one pound of fish in a gallon of water. But that would be crowded. So, we will go for one pound fish living in 10 gallons of water.

You could make the water tank yourself using wood, or you could find large bin at your nearest local hardware store. If you are going for the plastic bin, we would suggest you go for a food grade one. Such plastic bins can hold 55 gallons or 225 gallons of water. So, choose the one that suits your passion.

Growing Bed

The growing bed will be used to plant the vegetable plants. Going for a wooden box is the simplest solution to it. The box should have a depth of 10 inches. As we are giving you the example of growing in the backyard, you could go for the bigger beds.

Now you have filled the beds with a growing medium. You could go for perlite, fine gravel or Coco Coir. These are the most suitable growing medium you could find. These can be found in the local markets. The professionals tend to go for the Coco Coir for their superior air and moisture retaining capabilities. But they are a bit expensive.

Pumps and Pipes

Okay, so now we have two mediums to grow plants and the fish. Now, all we just need to do is to connect these two mediums so that they can be self-dependent. The pump is placed in the water tank that can supply water to the growing beds of the plants. The pipe should be food-grade too. The fish will get nutrients from the plant bed, and the plant bed will get the necessary water from the tank via the pump.

You will not have to spend a lot to do so. A $15 pump is all you need.

Aerator

You need an aerator to provide oxygen to the fishes. Otherwise, they will die within a day or two. You will always have run the aerator for the safety of o your fishes.

Fish

All is set now. Now you have to select the fish that you want to grow. Catfishes are the most suitable fish to grow inside a bin. Moreover, they can sustain the cold weather in the winter. Many people think that Tilapia is the best one you could for. We would suggest you go for a variation of catfishes that would make it more beautiful.

Carps or bigger fishes are not a good option to go for.

Plants

So, you have selected the fishes. Now it’s time choose the vegetable or the plant. Remember, we have designed the having only 10 inches in depth. So, whatever plant you choose should have smaller roots.

We will suggest you go for tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, lettuce, kale, spinach, basil, etc. These plants have smaller roots and don’t grow that high.

Final Words

Aquaponics is a great option for a hobby. It will also provide you with regular fresh food. So, what do you think? Are getting interested? Don’t hesitate. Just build yourself an aquaponics.

 

Attract and Keep Earthworms in Your Garden with 7 Easy Tricks or Less

Attract and Keep Earthworms in Your Garden with 7 Easy Tricks or Less

Earthworms are extremely helpful as they work as a natural soil nutrient. We all know the disadvantages of using chemical fertilizers. Your soil garden will become completely dependent on the chemicals and will eventually lose all the natural essence.

Earthworms eat up the plant residue components – grass, dead leaves, roots, etc. When they eject feces, these get mixed up with the soil. These organic wastes are full of nitrogen which is helpful for the plants. Moreover, the earthworms create pathways while they move. It improves the drainage system. Thus, they stand against soil erosion and other hassles.

So, how could you attract these immensely helpful worms to your garden?

Ways to Attract and Keep Earthworms in Your Garden

Attract and Keep Earthworms in Your Garden with 7 Easy Tricks or Less

1. Use Organic Wastes

If there are no earthworms already in your garden, it means the soil is really low on minerals and organic components. You need to use some organic wastes like dried up leaves, straw, decomposed compost, or cow dung. Collect these components and mix them with the soil and water it regularly. The soil will become rich in minerals.

These are the main food for the earthworms. So, naturally, they will be attracted to the soil of your garden.

2. Irrigate Regularly

The damp and moist environment is a more suitable habitat for the earthworms. If you land is too dry, the earthworms will avoid it. So, you should water the land regularly. Adding up some animal manure will quicken the process.

So, if you have livestock, this could be the perfect use of the wastes from them.

3. Organic Fertilizers

Fertilizers help to supply minerals to the soil that ensure the better growth of the plants. But remember to avoid the factory made chemical fertilizers. They are harmful to the environment and ecology. Rather you should choose the organic fertilizers.

They can be found in your local markets as people are more attracted to the natural and organic components these days.

4. Avoid Tilling Too Deep

Tilling makes the soil ready for plantation and also enriches the soil with oxygen. But if you till the soil too deep, the earthworm nesting will suffer serious damage. This might even scare them off. So, you should know how deep you should till the soil. Don’t till up the soil more than a foot.

5. Maintain a Proper Level of pH

Earthworms cannot tolerate the acidic environment. The soil should have a pH rating of more than 4.5. Calcium work like magic to maintain the pH level in the soil. So, you should maintain the supply of calcium to the soil to make the soil more earthworm friendly.

6. Avoid Pesticides

Pesticides are extremely dangerous and fatal for the earthworms. If you must use some pesticides, try to go for the organic ones. The chemical pesticides are harmful to both the plants and the worms. The chemical pesticides will kill off the earthworms.

7. Remove the Plastic Based Components

Plastic and polyethylene are such a nuisance. They cannot be decomposed and leave its harmful traces all over the garden. If the land has too many plastics and polyethylene, consider removing them. Earthworms hate such things.

Final Words

Earthworms work like a charm for the soil. The soil gets a natural and regular supply of organic composts from them. Moreover, the integrity of the soil remains intact for many years. The soil structure improves as well. Recent research has shown that healthy soil has 7 million earthworms per hector.

So, the more earthworms your garden soil has, the better nutrient your plants will get. Rather than using chemical fertilizers, using earthworm is a much better choice. What are you thinking about? Your garden deserves the best and using earthworms is the best thing you can do for your soil.

 

 

Harvest Season: 4 Ways to Store Fresh Produce

Harvest Season: 4 Ways to Store Fresh Produce

A farmer becomes happiest during the harvest season without any doubt. But if you don’t harvest and store them properly, you could damage them and decrease the integrity of the harvest. So, you got to be extra careful during the harvest season.

Proper storing depends on how long you are planning to store them before selling or eating. It could be for long term and short term. Whichever the case is, we have prepared you the best tips and tricks to store the vegetables and fruits properly during the harvest season. Take a look at them for yourself.

Harvest Season: 4 Ways to Store Fresh Produce

Tips to Store the Fresh Produce from Your Garden

1. Collecting Fresh Vegetables

Most of the homegrown garden have vegetables. And why wouldn’t it? Nobody wants to miss out on the chance to eat a fresh homegrown vegetable in their meals. So, when you see your vegetable are have grown fully, cut them from the plants properly. Proper cutting ensures a better result.

After collecting them, you should clean them up. But be careful you don’t want to damage the outer surface. It makes the vegetables to lose the appeal. Later on, clean the vegetables with fresh water and dry them up using a piece of cloth like towels. They are now ready for packaging and refrigeration.

2. Refrigeration

Refrigeration is important if you want to enjoy the vegetables for a long time. There are certain ways to do that. First, of the uncut vegetables are already ready for refrigeration. They don’t need additional care. But leafy green is quite different. Lettuce, Spinach or coriander leaves will fall into this section. You should dry them off and store them in airtight plastic bags. This technique will keep them rotting for days.

But remember, with time passing by the vegetable will lose the integrity and nutrients. So, considering to store them for a long time is not a good move. The taste will also be reduced with time.

3. Packing the Vegetables

If you use a proper cold environment, some vegetable can last for months. We are talking about potatoes, onions, garlic, etc. If you can store them in cold storage where the temperature is fixed at 60ish degree Fahrenheit, it will last for months.

But if somehow you bruise them while storing it will get damaged and soon will be rotten. So, pack them safely and with causing any damage and store them is a cold environment. The root cellar is a perfect example of such kind of cold storages.

4. Can Them Up!

Canning the vegetables is the best way to make them fresh for a long period. If you can use them properly, some vegetables will even last for 2 or more years. So, how could you can them?

It’s simple! Get yourself an air-tight jar or can. Boil the vegetable to remove any harmful contamination. Then store them in the air-tight jar with vinegar, lemon oil or even water. You could see some canned mushrooms in the store who uses this method to store them for about two years. This is a very clever and smart technique to store the fresh grown vegetable.

Final Words

Harvesting is the most important part of farming. If you don’t harvest and store the fresh produces items properly, all the hard works will be meaningless. Moreover, track time after you plant the vegetables or fruits. If you don’t start the harvesting process soon, they will get rotten.

Don’t wait for them to become fully ripe. If you do so, they will get rotten, and you will get an important amount due to being late. You should start harvesting just before they will become ripe. This process helps the storing a lot.