Lucky me though, there is no information on the soils for my particular site from NRCS! Can you believe it? Of course it would happen to me! Ha. And beware, the NRCS Soil Survey thing is not very intuitive to use...
In any case, we were to complete a jar soil test. This is where you take a jar, fill a bit of it up with some soil from your site. Then, fill the jar up with water, be sure to penetrate all of the soil with water. THEN SHAKE THE CRAP OUT OF IT. For like, a minute. I was sore the next day after this... And then you let it settle, for as long as it takes. Some people's take a few days, and mine only took a few hours.
You're supposed to go down quite a bit, but I was unable due to the fact that about 6 inches into the soil are ROCKS. Lots and lots of rocks, little, big... So many. So I don't really feel that I had the best sample. However, I learned how to complete the soil jar test, and that's the important part.
The point is to see what sort of soil you have on your site. Knowing what kind of soil you have helps you decide what sort of plants you will be able to easily take care of. It also lets you know what kind of amendments that you may need to add to the soil, and whether or not you will have to build your soil... In my case, the best option is to build up the soil... Because there is like, zero organic matter in my soil. That means that the water doesn't stay in the site at all, it just goes down and down and disappears into the abyss.
According to my educated guess, my soil is Aridisol (or desert soil, surprise!). According to Brittanica "Aridisols are dry, desert-like soils that have low organic content. They are sparsely vegetated by drought or salt, tolerant plants. Due to the dry climate and low humus content, Aridisol soil tends not to be great for crops and farming unless irrigated."
After all that, we needed to interpret our soils. And well, mine was that soil building was needed because it's impossible, unless you have heavy machinery to dig down into the soil. Not everyone can afford to rent that kind of stuff! Ha.
Anyway, I believe that the image to the right (obtained from Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary) shows what the soil horizons would look like if we were actually able to dig deep enough to see them. It's like a horror show for soils. Lol.
According to my soil test, I have "sandy loam". What does this mean? Well, it means that the drainage is incredibly fast and it doesn't hold any great amount of water for the plants. It also means that it lacks a lot of nutrients and will probably require additional fertilization to support healthy plants. It also might be that one will need to test the pH of the soil somewhat frequently in order to determine if the desired plants will grow well or not.
The real way to build up Sandy Loam soil is to add organic content, this can be a thick layer of compost or other appropriate materials.
MAN. Hügelkultur is like, one of the coolest things I have learned about in my Perma class! The short version of it is that you can build a sort of berm that is filled with large logs and other organic matter, then you add soil on top. The logs and organic matter within the berms will hold in water. Sometimes, one doesn't even have to water these at all! Below is a short little video that will give you a snippit of information on Kügelkultur. It's cool and worth the watch, promise!
I'm Adrienne! Stay tuned for my adventures in beginning homesteading.
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