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Front Page » April 14, 2009 » Carbon County News » Adding organic materials to soil plays crucial role in en...
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Adding organic materials to soil plays crucial role in ensuring successful garden


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By JULENE REESE
USU Extension writer

The most critical component for a successful garden is healthy soil. 

With enough organic matter and care, the majority of the soils in the Castle Valley region will support a productive garden. 

This holds especially true if the soil is new to gardening, pointed out Utah State University Extension horticulturist Jerry Goodspeed.

But areas that have been gardened for years can also be improved by adding organic matter to the soil. 

Compost is an excellent soil amendment, continued the USU Extension horticulturist.

Compost can come in the form of manure, leaves, animal bedding and other organic materials. 

Goodspeed recommended that Carbon County residents consider several gardening tips.

The suggestions include: 

•Starting the gardening process by applying two or more inches of compost to the soil and working the material into the ground. 

In addition, people should incorporate an all-purpose fertilizer at the same time as applying the compost to ensure enough nutrients for the young plants, advised the USU Extension horticulturist. 

Most compost has nutritional value, but it may not be enough to support early spring growth.

•When tilling organic material into the soil, people should keep in mind that the purpose is to work it in, not pulverize the dirt into a fine dust.

Most soils only require one to two passes with a roto-tiller, noted the USU Extension horticulturist. It is important to leave structure or small aggregates in the soil.

•Once the soil is tilled, people should create wide, loose raised beds. 

The first step of the process involves digging small paths, about one-foot wide, between the growing beds in the garden.

The second and final step of the process involves iincorporating the soil from the paths into the raised beds on each side, explained Goodspeed. 

Creating loose raised beds will help the vegetable growing area stay loose and prevents compaction from foot traffic.

It will also allow the soil to warm earlier and make weeding the garden easier.

Constructing the recommended type of raised bed doesn't cost anything to construct, added Goodspeed.

All it takes is a little sweat and time.

It also makes it easy to work the soil in the fall after the garden has frozen.

People may simply run a tiller through the garden to work dead plant materials back into the soil, explained the USU Extension horticulturist. 

Spending the time and energy to create healthy soil will reward residents with a productive vegetable garden, concluded Goodspeed.

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April 14, 2009
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