Soil Sample Testing - How To Take A Soil Sample And Get It Tested

Soil Sample Testing

If you’re not getting the results you’d hoped for from all areas of your organic garden, it may be time to do some soil sample testing.

I’ve talked about simple home soil tests before. There really is a lot you can see with your eyes or smell with your nose or feel with your fingers.

But sometimes the only way to get the real goods on your soil’s nutrient profile is to do some soil sample testing and send it to the experts.


How To Prepare Soil For A Garden - 2 Very Different Ways

How To Prepare Soil For A Garden By Double Digging

There are a couple of different methods of preparing soil for a garden bed, both of which have their uses.

Once you’ve dug a hole, played around with your soil a bit, and learned about your soil texture, it’s now time to get at making your garden.

The first thing I want to briefly mention about how to prepare soil for a garden is what to do if you have a very extreme soil texture, i.e. very sandy or clayey.


Home Soil Testing - No Need For A Soil Test Kit To Do This Soil Test

Home Soil Testing Digging
Dig a hole and place the soil into a wheelbarrow or on a tarp.

I have a very simple home soil testing process for you.

I know you probably want to learn about topics like:

  • How to get rid of insect and disease pests, or
  • How to grow the best-tasting tomatoes ever, or
  • Which fertilizers to apply to improve your soil

And I can hardly wait to teach you these things.


What Is Soil Made Of And How Does Soil Form?

What Is Soil Made Of?

If you’ve ever wondered what is soil made of - GOOD!

You absolutely need to wonder about this kind of thing if you’re going to grow optimally healthy food and ornamental plants.

I understand - perhaps there are more exciting topics for some folks.

But read on below and you’ll see that many of our most important organic gardening tasks stem from this vital question...


FREE Organic Gardening Course To Help You Grow Nutrient-Dense Food

I've been involved with gardening since I was a kid, but I didn't get excited about it until I discovered organic gardening.

Organic Gardening

This year, I’m super excited about an awesome series of organic home gardening lessons I have planned for you.

I was originally going to charge about $70 for the course, but I've decided to be a rebel and give it to you for free, at least for the time being.

So I’ll be writing and videoing this free online course of about 20 lessons. They will summarize some of the important steps in the Smiling Gardener Academy. I'll send it out to my email subscribers as I go.


Amazon Jungle Lesson 3 Of 3 - The Soil Food Web

Soil Food Web In The Amazon

In the first two posts I covered how important it is to balance the mineralization in the soil in order to be able to grow the kinds of plants we want to grow, and then how to increase organic matter in soil the way nature does it.

Now I want to get into the third part of this soil health triangle, the soil food web.

This refers to the life in the soil, especially the bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms, and the insects and other small animals.

The plants are part of this too since they have a tremendous impact on the soil.


Amazon Jungle Lesson 2 Of 3 - Organic Matter In Soil

Organic Matter In The Amazon

In the last post I talked about improving soil mineralization.

Now I want to discuss another aspect of organic soil health that is important for so many things: organic matter in soil.

Organic matter refers partially to living things like roots and fungi, but in this context it mostly means everything that used to be alive.

That means fresh fallen leaves and recently deceased snakes and beetles, to the coarse mulch layer when these things are partially decomposed, to the very stable humus when they’re fully broken down which stays around in the soil for years.


Amazon Jungle Lesson 1 Of 3 - Mineralization

Amazon Mineralization

Welcome to the first of three steps on how we can learn from nature when it comes to improving garden health, especially organic soil health.

(You'll see me swatting at mosquitoes and these other biting bugs here and there - they sure were thick when we got deep into the jungle).

All three steps are equally important, but the first I tend to think about is balancing soil minerals, the main reason being that I want to get a soil test analyzed as soon as possible when I’m working on a new garden because it can take a couple of weeks to get results.

Admittedly, this first post is more about how our organic gardens differ from a forest with regards to fertility than how it is the same, but it’s a very useful comparison.


Organic Gardening Lessons From The Amazon Jungle

Monkey In The Amazon Jungle
Heather spent a day hanging with rescued monkeys.

Hey guys, guess where I am?

Okay, I gave it away in the title. I’m in the Amazon jungle!

Heather and I are living in Peru for 3 months. While we’re here I’m learning a few things about growing food in the tropics.

But while we're in the jungle I’m mostly just trying to pay attention to the nature around me.

You can learn a lot about organic gardening if you take the time to observe nature.


Phil's 2013 Update

2013 Gardening Update

Happy New Year Everyone!

I thought it would be fun to update you on what's been going on at in 2012 and what I'll be up to in 2013.

First, thanks to everyone for your support, for leaving questions and comments on my blog or sending me an email.

I can't respond to most emails, but I do really appreciate your enthusiasm for organic gardening.


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