Knowledge is like money: the more he gets, the more he craves.
Josh Billings


Category: Garden




THIS is not a textbook or a "complete" book of soils. It is simply a practical discussion of good garden soil-call it "Gardener's Loam"-how to get it, how to retain it and, of equal importance, how to make it produce maximum results for you and your plants.
I don't believe a truly complete book of soils will ever be written; the subject is too vast and complex. It would be no exaggeration to say that a hundred thick volumes would be needed to fully dis-cuss soils.

In preparing my previous book, "Your Lawn-How to Make It and Keep It," I gathered reams of research reports and up-to-date scientific data and distilled them into everyday terms and usable information. For this book the job was much tougher. There was an ocean of technical information available about soils, but with extra distillation effort the end result is, again, a book of simple, practical, usable information. (At this point let me acknowledge that in work-ing with the final manuscripts of both of these books I benefited greatly from the invaluable editorial assistance of Herbert C. Bardes.)

You will find here everything you need to know about Gardener's Loam-an ideal, man-made soil of such quality that it cannot be directly compared with native earth or with the loams and clays of the farmer's field. You will also find discussion of nutrients, organic matter, water and air, soil organisms, alkalinity, and acidity, and other related aspects of soil; this will be sufficiently informative for most of you but, for some of you, the book will only whet your appetite for further reading in scientific books. Whatever your interest, this book will give you a new appreciation and respect for the wonders of soil. There are more unsolved mysteries, more unexplored avenues in the study of soil than in any scientific field in existence. Even the human body is simple when compared with the loam outside your kitchen door.

Soil is not merely a mixture of inert minerals-sand, silt, and clay. It is a community of organisms that live in every pore of a soil mass. The minerals are merely the mechanical structure. Soil itself-in lawns, flower gardens, vegetable plots, shrub plantings and so on- is as alive as the gardener who tills it. A handful of loam from your garden contains more living organisms than there are human beings on the face of the earth. Soil is alive and must be treated as a living substance.

We must recognize that a garden is not a natural place in which to grow plants. It is a completely artificial environment in which we are striving for controlled, not natural, growth. We are purposely molding plants to our own end. The soil is merely one element in a deliberate program to make "Nature" serve us better.

With that foundation I share my knowledge and experience with you in this book. As you put this information to work in your own gardening efforts, I'm sure that you, too, will see and feel the magic in your garden soil.


Table Of Contents:

  • Make the pH Work for You
  • Foreword v From the Ground Up-A General View of Soils
  • Various Soil Tests-Pro and Con
  • Soil Fertilizers-Uses and Sources
  • What You Should Know About Nutrients
  • Organic AND (not vs.) Inorganic Gardening
  • Composting and Soil Conditioning
  • Organic Matter in Soils
  • Microorganisms Live and Die for You
  • Water and Air-A Vital Pair
  • The Misunderstood Earthworm
  • A Little Digging Goes a Long Way
  • Soil-Borne Plant Diseases
  • Special Soil Mixtures
  • Harmful Soil Insects and Other Pests
  • Weeds and Weed Killers 
  • Appendix
    • Soil Preferences of Plants (pH Readings)
    • Estimating Topdressing Materials for Lawns
    • Reading Foliage for Deficiency Symptoms
    • Where to Send Soil Samples for Testing


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