East Texas Ag News: Improving your garden soil

Angelina County, Texas (KTRE) – Gardeners have really appreciated the recent rains and are watching the weather and the calendar for opportunities to work outdoors. Whether it’s your garden, landscape, or vegetable garden, many of us can’t wait for the sun to shine so you can start digging, preparing and planting your garden!

But your ground isn’t the best. Can you really improve or “build” your soil? Sure, you can. It is made by mixing organic matter and lime as needed.

When your garden is empty and the weather is nice, the first step is to add organic matter.

Is your soil too sandy? Add organic matter. Nothing but clay? Add organic matter.

The benefits of adding organic matter are numerous. Composted organic matter adds nutrients, increases the water holding capacity of sandy soils, improves soil structure and harbors beneficial microbes. land is apparently added to any state found.

Compost can come from compost, lawn clippings, leaves, or anything else you can find. Cultivate to. This allows the soil to make its own compost.

Now, when looking for a new garden site, one of the biggest challenges is finding well-drained soil. Much of our land has clay as a subsoil. This clay is typically red in northern Angelina County and gray in southern Angelina County. Well-drained soil is essential for many desirable shrubs, perennials and vegetables.

Well-drained soil is related to the rate at which water penetrates the soil. Many homeowners believe that a “flowing” slope is “well drained”. it’s not. Water must move to the soil and pass through it. Some old-timers may remember the seepage test that was required before the old septic line was laid.

If you’re not sure if your garden is poorly drained, there are rigorous small-scale tests to see how well it drains. Here is the method to follow:

Step 1: Dig a hole at least 12 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep with straight sides. If you are testing a large site, dig a few scattered holes as drainage may vary.

Step 2: Fill the hole with water and leave it overnight. This will saturate the soil and help you get a more accurate reading.

Step 3: Refill the hole with water the next day.

Step 4: Place a stick, pipe, or other straightedge over the top of the hole to measure the water level hourly and use a tape measure or ruler to determine the water level. Continue to measure the water level every hour until the hole is empty and record how many inches the water level drops per hour.

Ideal soil drainage is about 2 inches per hour. A measurement of between 1 inch and 3 inches is usually fine for most plants that require average drainage. If the rate is less than 1 inch per hour, the soil is not well drained.

For very poorly drained soils, the solution for vegetables and many perennials is a raised bed. Raising the level of the soil in which the desired plant grows can be very helpful.

A frequently asked question is, “Can I dig a deep hole and fill it with good soil to create a well-drained site?” Digging such a hole will only create a large “clay bowl” that can hold enough water.

To overcome uncertainties in the application of lime and additional fertilizers, soil tests should be taken. The cost of soil testing is $15 per sample, and if mailed he charges $6-7 for shipping. SFA has a laboratory that tests soil mineralization and fertilization. Forms can be picked up at the Farmers’ Market office in South Loop, Lufkin, next to his market, or you can print them yourself from the internet. Type “SFA soil test” into the search engine and select the first pdf option on the screen.

If you’re interested in learning more about your soil, what it’s best suited for, and how you can improve it, the Angelina County Extension Office will host an evening seminar, Building Your Soil’s, on Tuesday, January 17. Hosted by Health. Free Seminar Starts at 6:30 pm at the Extension Office at 2201 S. Medford Dr. Lufkin. Participants will learn how soil health affects the productivity of gardens, meadows, hay meadows and landscapes. Participants learn about basic principles and are given solutions that can be applied to common soil problems.


Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Angelina County. His email His address is cw-sims@tamu.edu.

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