Cultivating Soil

What is meant by the term “in good tilth”? Soil which has suitable crumbly structure, sufficient humus, and is well drained. To help secure good tilth, use compost or peat moss or grow a green manure crop; tile if necessary.

Soil is ready to be dug when a handful, firmly compressed, crumbles apart readily. If it remains in a sticky mass, with moisture on the surface, it is still too wet.

How fine should soil be prepared for planting? For seed beds fine enough so that few lumps remain, else seed covering will be difficult. For large plants, coarse soil is better than fine.

How can I know that my soil is right for growing vegetables and flowers? If the structure is crumbly, the soil is dark; if compost, peat moss, and a complete fertilizer are added, good crops will grow. To make sure, have a soil test made.

Is cultivating – stirring up the soil – necessary except to control weeds and grass in such crops as corn and potatoes? Usually, mulching substitutes for cultivation. In some soils, a fine dust mulch cuts off air movement between soil and the atmosphere, hardly a desirable situation.

What is the best way to tell if soil is in condition to cultivate? Put a clean trowel or spade into your soil. If, when you pull the tool out of the soil, many particles cling to the clean surface, the soil is too wet to be cultivated.

What is meant by “fallow”? Fallow means plowing the land and allowing it to stand idle with no crop. It may be spaded or tilled while fallow.

What is the purpose of fallowing? For the control of weeds by plowing them under. Soil standing idle one year stores moisture for next year’s crop. For this reason, the practice is used mostly in arid regions.