Thursday, January 28, 2010

Best Soil for Home Gardening

Soil for Tomato Gardening
Of the 10 largest yields of which I have personal knowledge and which ran from 1,000 to 1,200 bushels of fruit (acceptable for canning and at least two-thirds of it of prime market quality) an acre, four were grown on soils classed as clay loam, two on heavy clay—one of which was so heavy that clay for making brick was subsequently taken from the very spot which yielded the most and best fruit—one on what had been a black ash swamp, one on a sandy muck, two on a sandy loam and one on a light sand made very rich by heavy, annual manuring for several years. They were all perfectly watered and drained, in good heart, liberally fertilized with manures of proved right proportions for each field, and above all, the fields were put into and kept in perfect tilth by methods suited to each case; while the plants used were of good stock and so grown, set and cultivated that their growth was never stopped or hardly checked for even a day. These conditions as to soil and culture, together with seasons of exceptionally favorable weather, resulted in uniformly large crops on these widely different soils.

Here [at home] we seldom have a choice, but no one need despair and abandon effort, no matter what the soil may be, for it is quite possible to raise an abundant home supply on any soil and that, too, without inordinate cost and labor. Some of the most prolific plants and the finest fruits I have ever seen were grown in a village lot which five years before had been filled in to a depth of 3 to 10 feet with clay, coal ashes and refuse from a brick and coal yard. In another instance magnificent fruit was grown in a garden where the soil was originally made up chiefly of sawdust mixed with sand, drawn on a foundation of sawmill edgings so as to raise it above the water of a swamp.

Where one has to contend with such conditions he should make an effort to create a friable soil with a supply of humus by adding the material needed. A very few loads, sometimes even a single load, of clay or sand will greatly change the character of the soil of a sufficient area to grow the one or two dozen plants necessary for a family supply. In the two cases mentioned, the owner of the first named garden used both sand and sawdust to lighten his soil, while the second drew a great many loads of clay on his.