Monday, April 5, 2010

Garden Unit Study Update!

I know I mentioned to you last month last the kids and I are working on a Garden Unit Study to finish out our school year. Well I wanted to let you in on some of things we have been case you want to try them out with your kiddos...great science, economics, life skills and character training all at the same time!

One thing that you will hear any experienced gardener tell you is that your garden will only be as successful as the soil it grows in. The bottom line, if you have cruddy soil...hence low quality plants with low yields. So we wanted to test our soil this year and see where is tested, although I had a good idea of what the results would be.

I went to the local hardware store and bought us this little test kit for about $5.00. This kits includes enough test tubes and pills to do 10 tests. It included very clear instructions on what to easy the kids did it! These test will give you the results of a few things...PH being the first one you want to know. Testing the PH level of your soil helps you to know if you soil is alkaline, neutral, or acidic. Plants require the correct PH level to control how they use the Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potassium that is available. All plants have a PH preference. Depending on what veggies you are planting you can adjust the soil with fertilizer, organic matter, ect. to meet the desired PH level. (Our soil is neutral.) My kits also includes a sheet that told me the PH preference of most veggies I would ever want to plant!

  Besides PH there are three other areas that these kits test for: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, & Potassium (Potash it what the kits calls it). Each one of these chemical properties does a very special and important job in the soil.
~NITROGEN~ directly responsible for healthy green leaves.
~Phosphorous~ vital for a healthy root development.
~Potash~ is essential for flower and fruit development.
(Our soil tested LOW on all three....which is what I figured!)
To help with the quality of soil in our garden I went to a local peat moss and landscaping distributor and picked up a truck load of "Sand Mix".  The boys (I helped some too) helped to unload all of it. This mixture is part sand (to aid in good drainage), part peat (to help retain the moisture), and black dirt (adding nice texture to the dirt). In case your curious, it cost me just under $30 for the whole truck load (2 yards). We have also added horse manure (last year), leafs (this Spring) and 12-12-12 fertilizer to the soil. The triple 12 fertilizer is what will help to replenish the soil with Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potash.  To top off our working week, my wonderful Father-In-Law came and tilled the garden up for me last Thursday night!
Miss Julia really wasn't much help in the labor force department....she did cheer us on and tell us "Good job guys!" She also enjoyed playing in the dirt (to make it appear that she helped...gotta love that!). As you can also see, she also was enjoying herself as she posed for Lance aka: the camera man.
Caleb also informed me that he felt he had met his charater training quota after two straight days of hard work and he just wanted to play all day on granted by mom....they were a ton of help, they earned it!

I haven't planted anything in the garden....I did tranplant some Rhurbarb starts that someone graciously gave to me!!!! Yahoo for that!! Stay tooned as Spring rolls along for more garden updates, tips, and helpful hints in the garden!



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