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Improving Your Soil

Cover of Improving Your Soil

Improving Your Soil

A Practical Guide to Soil Management for the Serious Home Gardener
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Valuable advice from an expert in soil science.

Intended for both small and medium-size gardens, Improving Your Soil reveals the steps to take to achieve the perfect soil base in which to grow plants. With directions on amending poor soil, modifying mediocre earth, aerating compacted topsoil and substrates, and testing pH levels, this book enables gardeners to nurture their plants and promote more abundant growth.

The features of good soil include proper structure and nutrients that encourage healthy plant growth. Soil in "good tilth" is loamy, nutrient-rich and friable because it has an optimal mixture of sand, clay and organic matter that prevents severe compaction. Improving Your Soil shows gardeners how to improve the soil in their garden to encourage good seed bedding and a strong root system for proper nutrient disbursement throughout various soil depths.

Flower gardeners and vegetable gardeners will all benefit from the tips and methods in Improving Your Soil.

Topics include:

  • What your soil can tell you about how you need to manage it
  • Soil texture and structure — building soil tilth
  • Using amendments to correct soil problems, such as clay or sandy soil
  • Creating a good environment for plant growth in different situations
  • Providing the right amount of water for plants
  • The teeming microscopic world of soils
  • Building soil organic matter
  • Crop rotations
  • Types of compost and how to make good compost
  • Managing soils to minimize pest and disease problems
  • Feeding the plants — the nutrients they need, and how to get them there
  • Overcoming common nutrient deficiencies
  • Organic vs. mineral fertilizers.
  • The detailed information is complemented with line drawings, diagrams and illustrations that demonstrate various soil issues and how to resolve common problems. With information on remedying specific problems with particular plants, Improving Your Soil will be an often-consulted resource for all gardeners.

    Valuable advice from an expert in soil science.

    Intended for both small and medium-size gardens, Improving Your Soil reveals the steps to take to achieve the perfect soil base in which to grow plants. With directions on amending poor soil, modifying mediocre earth, aerating compacted topsoil and substrates, and testing pH levels, this book enables gardeners to nurture their plants and promote more abundant growth.

    The features of good soil include proper structure and nutrients that encourage healthy plant growth. Soil in "good tilth" is loamy, nutrient-rich and friable because it has an optimal mixture of sand, clay and organic matter that prevents severe compaction. Improving Your Soil shows gardeners how to improve the soil in their garden to encourage good seed bedding and a strong root system for proper nutrient disbursement throughout various soil depths.

    Flower gardeners and vegetable gardeners will all benefit from the tips and methods in Improving Your Soil.

    Topics include:

  • What your soil can tell you about how you need to manage it
  • Soil texture and structure — building soil tilth
  • Using amendments to correct soil problems, such as clay or sandy soil
  • Creating a good environment for plant growth in different situations
  • Providing the right amount of water for plants
  • The teeming microscopic world of soils
  • Building soil organic matter
  • Crop rotations
  • Types of compost and how to make good compost
  • Managing soils to minimize pest and disease problems
  • Feeding the plants — the nutrients they need, and how to get them there
  • Overcoming common nutrient deficiencies
  • Organic vs. mineral fertilizers.
  • The detailed information is complemented with line drawings, diagrams and illustrations that demonstrate various soil issues and how to resolve common problems. With information on remedying specific problems with particular plants, Improving Your Soil will be an often-consulted resource for all gardeners.

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    About the Author-
    • Keith Reid
    Table of Contents-
    • Contents

      Acknowledgments
      Preface
      Introduction: Seasons of the Soil
      1. Getting Started: What Type of Soil Do You Have?
      2. What Is Soil, and Why Is It Important?
      3. Different Soils, Different Challenges
      4. Soil Texture: The Bones of Your Soil
      5. Soil Structure: The Skeleton of Your Soil
      6. Soil Water
      7. Irrigation Basics for Gardens
      8. A Little Bit of Soil Chemistry
      9. How Soil Holds Nutrients
      10. Soil Life and Soil Organic Matter
      11. Harnessing Biological Cycles for Our Benefit
      12. Feeding Your Plants
      13. Sustaining the Land
      Glossary of Soil Terms
      Appendix I: Selected Laboratories for Testing Garden Soils
      Appendix II: Agricultural and Horticultural Extension Resources
      Appendix III: Chemical Symbols and Formulas
      Index

    Reviews-
    • William Scheick [Review of print edition:] Soil scientist Keith Reid reveals the steps to take to achieve the perfect soil base in which to grow plants... Improving Your Soil shows gardeners how to improve the soil in their garden to encourage good seed bedding and a strong root system for proper nutrient disbursement throughout various soil depths. The detailed information is complemented with line drawings, diagrams and illustrations that demonstrate various soil issues and how to resolve common problems.
    • David Hobson [Review of print edition:] Improving Your Soil features a reader-friendly discussion, organization and format — feats indeed, considering the wealth of scientific information included in this book. I don't think the topic of soil can be covered better than Keith Reid has managed here.
    • Jeff Lowenfels [Review of print edition:] (starred review) Reid, a soil scientist for more than 30 years, leads the reader through a detailed discussion of the subject at hand. In 13 chapters, the author covers soil analysis, the basics of soil chemistry, soil structure and the implications of both, water and irrigation issues, exploiting biological cycles in service of gardening and the all-important issue of how improve and manage long term fertility in gardens and fields. Also provided is a guide to the warning signs of common soil deficiencies and how to troubleshoot common problems.... The author conveys a complex topic in a straightforward and well organized manner, using a clear writing style to good effect. Although this is not a long book, it is a surprisingly complete book, one that avoids both obfuscation and oversimplification. Intended for avid gardeners, it can also stand as an example of how to write popular science books.
    • Helen Chesnut [Review of print edition:] Before you order that load of topsoil or begin stockpiling compost, I recommend reading (this) excellent book by Keith Reid, a soil scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada with over 30 years' experience.... In it, the author explains all aspects of soil and how it works. He begins by relating what's going on beneath our feet as each seasonal cycle passes, how heat, cold and moisture affect the microscopic life in the soil. He shows how to identify the kind of soil in your garden, explains how it feeds plants, and describes the structure and texture of soil. There's much, much more, including a bit on soil chemistry, too, but don't let scientific references deter you. The author's stated goal is to demystify soil and offer practical methods that will allow you to grow a better garden. It's a fascinating read and I'd consider it essential reading for the serious gardener. It should convince anyone that the answer really does lie in the soil.
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    A Practical Guide to Soil Management for the Serious Home Gardener
    Keith Reid
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