Silt & Loam

Silt:

Silt is a very fertile soil mainly found near river banks. The soil particles of silt are smaller than sand and bigger than clay. It is one the best soils for any type of plantation. However silt is not easily available everywhere.

Loam Soil:

Loam (also known as Red Soil because of its red color) is a soil which is a perfect mix of Sand, Silt and Clay. The perfect Ratio is 40% Sand, 40% Silt and 20% clay. However the proportions differ and so does the soil properties. If the loam contains more of sand it is called as sandy loam or if it contains more of silt then it is called silty loam and likewise for clay loam. Loam being a mix of all the three is the most ideal soil for gardening.

Loam does not suffer any drawbacks of either clay or sand. The presence of sand allows air and water to penetrate easily. Clay helps in water retention and clay and silt both ensure ample supply of nutrients.

Synopsis: Loam does not create any Stress on the plant and is one of most ideal soils for gardening.

[Now you know why the Gardener always prefers red soil! The next time you visit the plant nursery do observe the soil!] 😉 🙂

Sandy Soil

Sandy soil is nothing but sand or soil composed mainly of sand. The color of sandy soil may differ from white to beige to golden brown. The sand particles are very distinguished and detached. They are not united with each other. As a result it is devoid of minerals (nutrients).

Now that we have understood the soil properties lets understand how the stress works.

Air: Air can easily penetrate through sandy soil because the sand particles are very detached. Hence there is no stress on the plant as far as air is concerned.

Water: Water percolates very easily through sand however Sand does not retain water.  Hence the plant undergoes a big stress as far as water is concerned.

Nutrients: Sandy soil does not contain any vital nutrients required by plants. Hence this is a major stress factor.

Synopsis: Lack of nutrients and non-retention of water makes this soil almost useless for gardening.

CLAY SOIL

The soil particles of clay soil (also called as black soil because of its color) are very minute and are tightly bonded to each other. So tightly are they attached to each other that it is difficult for both air and water to penetrate. Water percolates very slowly through the soil. Clay soil is a very fertile soil, full of minerals (nutrients).

Now that we have understood the soil properties lets understand how the stress works.

Air: As mentioned earlier the air penetrates very slowly through this soil. Hence inadequate supply of air causes a stress on plant.

Water: Water percolates very slowly through this soil. There is a high possibility of excess water clogging around the roots of the plants. Hence excessive water supply causes a stress on plant.

Nutrients: clay soil is one of most mineral-rich soil and plants receive ample of nutrients. There is no stress on plant as far as nutrients is concerned.

Synopsis: Clay soil creates two stresses on plants and hence is not the most ideal one. However these stresses can be corrected/removed with composting. We will study about it in detail in my upcoming posts.

UNDERSTANDING STRESS

cropped-dsc00532.jpgLike any being on this planet, plants too have three major requirements:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Nutrients

All of the above should be available to the plant in the soil. I repeat, the SOIL should contain adequate amount of air, water and nutrients for the roots to absorb and grow.

Inadequacy of any of these leads to STRESS thereby resulting in a not-so-healthy plant. Hence it is a gardener’s prime duty to ensure that the plants receive all of these. This can be ensured only when one understands and studies the types of soil thoroughly.

Don’t worry!! I had assured you that I’ll not be using any technical terms nor will I get too deep into the technicalities! The following is a simplified version of soil study!

Soil is majorly classified into three categories:

  1. Clay soil
  2. Sandy soil
  3. Loam soil

This is a simplified classification. The rest of the soil types are nothing but different proportions of clay, sand and silt!!

Going 100% Organic

By Organic, I mean 0% use of any chemicals. Making our garden chemical-free. Chemicals are mainly used in fertilizers and pesticides.

I believe in going 100% natural i.e. organic. I will be explaining in detail about organic compost and composting techniques in my upcoming articles.

We will now understand what happens when we use chemical fertilizers:

Chemical fertilizers once mixed with the soil do give the desired output. However they destroy the microbial ecosystem (microbes and other organic life like insects and fungi) that live within the soil. With destruction of the organic life, the soil slowly turns impotent and becomes dependent on these chemical fertilizers forever.

From the plants’ perspective, growing in such chemically treated soil, the plants develop a very weak immune system and are not in a position to resist pests! They get affected immediately by the pests and diseases!! To protect such weak plants from pests they are further sprayed with hazardous chemical pesticides and insecticides. These pesticides along with killing the pests also kill the honeybees and other useful insects that help in pollination.

Going 100% organic is the first step towards sustainable living. With growing awareness, there are lot of organic manure and pesticide available in the market. We can easily use these instead of the chemical ones. In my upcoming articles, I’ll be discussing in detail about composting and fighting pests in an organic way!!

How to begin

If you have any space in and around your house which receives sunlight for at least 3 hours in a day, is an ideal place to start.

A balcony/ open terrace/ window grill are ideal places to start!

 

If you do not have a space constraint, I would suggest you start with one or two Rose plants. Rose plants require a pot size of minimum 6 inches and a maximum of 10 inches. It is best to choose a Rose plant with strong stem formation. Rose is a sturdy perennial plant.  It flowers throughout all seasons.

If you have a space constraint where in you cannot fit in big plants like Rose, I would suggest you to go for small flowering plants like Chrysanthemum and Marigold (dwarf variety) in a pot size of 3-4inches.

Flowering plants are the best ones to start with as they require very low maintenance as well as they give us lot of scope to learn.

The plants need to be watered regularly (daily). Different plants have different water requirements. Excessive watering creates equal stress on a plant as inadequate watering. I will be discussing about different plant stresses in detail in my upcoming articles.

Things you require to start Gardening..

The most crucial and vital thing in gardening is your passion. Gardening is beyond the concept of entertainment (time-pass) or hobby. Your involvement with plants cannot be on a superficial level. They are living beings and just like your family members they need your attention and love more than food and water. You need to understand, respect and appreciate your plants only then can you call yourself a Gardener!!

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Once you have passion, rest everything will look very minuscule. You require a space which receives ample of sunlight (at least 3 hours of sunlight in a day). You need to water the plants regularly (daily). And you need to maintain the plants with proper pruning and composting.045db6310a3b2bcfb2bae6ec4ff93ce0

An ideal way to start is to buy one single plant and then every month go on adding different plants to your garden. Starting with just one plant gives you a lot of scope to observe the plant. With such a keen observation you are able to learn a lot of things about the plant. After all, gardening is learnt only through observations.

If it is your plant, it is your Baby. You will have to watch over it and enjoy its growing process. Its new leaves, its first bud, the flowering of the bud, the growth of a new stem. Everything counts.

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