This is part 2 of the Importance of Soil Testing article, if you have been visiting SIM regularly, you might now have known that I am guiding on how to grow organic vegetables in the space available at your homes.
Soil testing is the first and most important step to grow organic vegetables. However not everyone would want to take the pains of collecting sample and sending it to the lab (though it is the most advisable thing to do).
Well, if you are residing in India, soil testing can be easily done because the government is promoting it vigorously.
However if you feel that your soil has not been cultivated for past two to three years and there is no chance of chemicals overflowing from nearby fields then you can go ahead to take these 5 step test process to confirm a good produce after you put some effort to grow organic vegetables and fruits.
Easy Soil Test #1 – Visual Test
Look carefully at the soil you are going to choose for growing your organic vegetables.
What color it is?
An ideal soil color for growing vegetables should be something that is the darker shade of brown towards blackish hue.
You must be able to find fine pores in the soil.
There should be a wet look, the soil particles should be sticking to each other.
Easy Soil Test #2 – Compaction Test
Test the soil of the piece of land you are going to cultivate for its compactness first. Take a handful of soil from the plot.
The soil needs to come without you needing to put any extra pressure.
The soil has to be loose with little lumps which is a sign of water retention capacty and free from too much caking.
Too much caking means clayey soil which is not recommended for growing vegetables.
If you find your soil to be caky, add farm yard manure and sand to make it little less caky.
Easy Soil Test # 3 – Squeeze Test
Hold a handful of soil in your hand and squeeze it for a few seconds and then open you hand.
You will see one of the three results as below
The soil will hold to one another and form a lump. if you poke this lump slightly it will fall apart – Hurray! you have got the ideal soil for vegetable production.
- The soil will for a lump and will stay so even when you poke slightly – Clay soil, you need to make it a bit loose to get the required results in your organic vegetable growing.
- The soil does not at all form into a lump. alas! that is sandy soil, you would need to add some clay soil and farm yard manure to make it worthy to grow veggies.
Easy Soil Test # 4 Health Test
Dig a bit deeper into the soil, around half to one feet, take some soil and study carefully.
DO you see any worms?
Great, you soil is healthy, earthworms are super indicators that your soil contains organic substances required for plant growth. They also show you that your soil might contain beneficial microbes that would help you plants in getting all those nutrients – organically.
Do you see any tiny root left overs?
Oh wow! that means the larger root and other plant remains have been acted upon by micro organisms and other macro organisms in the soil and have been utilized thoroughly leaving lots of manure for your plant growth.
Easy Soil Test # 5 Water Holding Capacity
This is very important test which will give you an idea of how much water you would need to grow your organic vegetables.
Take a paper cup, make small holes using a pencil or a pin.
Fill this cup three fourths with your garden soil, make it a little tight, by pressing lightly.
Pour water till the water level reaches the rim of the glass.
Record the time taken for the soil to be percolated and water to drip out through the pores you have made.
Anything below half an hour and more than one hour needs some reclamation done.
These 5 tests will give you an idea of what the condition of your soil is and whether you can go ahead planting your organic vegetable seeds.
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