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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PST

This is the entirety of Chapter 14 “Effect Of Character Of Soil On Plants” from the first volume of Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide. We are fortunate to count this four-volume set from Audels among our extensive library of antique agricultural volumes. While the book was originally published in 1928, this piece is still both applicable and helpful to the modern farm or garden.

“The varying character of soil of the same type in different localities has a marked effect on the plants, although there may be no perceptible difference in the appearance of the plants.

It has been noticed in England, for example, that certain pastures fatten sheep well in the summer. All about these pastures are others with exactly the same type of plants, but the plants grow more slowly, producing more stem and less leaf and are less nutritious and incapable of fattening sheep. The soils seem to be identical. In other pastures the vegetables cause diarrhea, while similar vegetation on adjoining pasture does not.

It is possible that a considerable difference may be found in vegetables and fruits from different farms in the same locality.

audels-ft

“Specialists have recently discovered the importance of vitamins and the foods which contain them and later may establish a method of determining the exact food value of fruits and vegetables from different types of soils and different soils of the same type.

Many crops will not thrive on acid soils, these include: Alfalfa, Red Clover, Timothy, Kentucky Blue Grass, Corn, Oats, Parsnip, Pepper, Pumpkin, Salsify, Squash, Spinach, Beets, Barley, Sorghum, Celery, Currant, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Lettuce, Onion, Okra, Tobacco, Kohlrabi, Peanut, Egg Plant, and most flowering ornamental plants.

Some plants require acid soil or do not object to it. It is beneficial to all the Ericaceae family, which includes: Huckleberry, Blueberry, Cranberry, Heath, Wintergreen, Azalea, Arbutus, Andromeda, Sorrel Tree, Kalmia, Rhododendron, and Acacia.

Other plants that do not object to slight acidity include: Strawberry, Blackberry, Turnip, Watermelon, Rhode Island Bent Grass, Red Top, Potato, Sweet Potato, Carrot, Radish, Velvet Bean, Ferns, Raspberry, Blackcap, Soybean, Cowpea, Hairy Vetch, Crimson Clover, Rye, Buckwheat, Millet, Lupine, and Castor Oil Bean.

A proper selection of the plants in the table last given, above, may make it possible to cultivate acid soils profitably, where the expense of correcting the acidity would be greater than the owner could afford.

The ericaceae are particularly suitable for soils too acid for other crops. This family includes cranberry, huckleberry, blueberry, and others in the table given above.

Some of the composite plants do not seem to object to slightly acid soil. The composite is the largest natural order of plants, containing more than 10,000 species, estimated at about one-tenth of all the flowering plants. The Dandelion is of this family. See a botany guide for a complete list of these plants.

Action of Lime. -Lime neutralizes acidity of the soil, or as generally stated, “lime sweetens the soil.” Lime checks some plant diseases, but may promote others as it does in increasing scab in potatoes.

Lime is limestone or oyster shells, and it is used in several different forms. Quick lime is unslaked lime, also called lump lime. Ground lime is lump lime, ground. Water slaked lime is lime slaked by wetting. Hydrated lime is lump lime, ground fine, screened through fine sieves and hydrated commercially. Adding the water or hydrating, adds 32 per cent to the weight. Thus 100 lbs. of lump lime when hydrated will weigh 132 lbs. When hydrated, the lime is packed in paper bags. Air slaked lime is lump lime which has been exposed to the air. Ground limestone is limestone ground to a fine powder. Oyster shells when pulverized have the same value as pulverized limestone.

Soils respond much more readily to lime than to ground limestone. The use of lime results in the loss of nitrogen, through causing the rapid decay of organic matter and therefore should never be used on freshly manured land.

Lime is more effective in granulating clay soils than is ground limestone. Marl and gypsum are forms of lime, but are not promptly effective in correcting acid soils.

Abundance of rainfall causes excessive leaching of plant food materials from the soil. Calcium is the plant food most easily leached. Semi-arid soils, as a rule, when well supplied with lime are rarely acid. This leaching is hastened by the solvent action of carbonic acid gas, formed in the soil by the decomposition of organic matter, which converts the calcium compounds into soluble calcium bicarbonate.

Soluble iron or aluminum compounds are detrimental to plant growth and occur in harmful form in the absence of calcium.

The amount of calcium and magnesium removed in the crop from one acre, is given below, expressed in pounds per acre:

audels-ft-2A four ton crop of any of the common legumes removes from 120 to 140 pounds of calcium. Analysis has shown that alfalfa, grown on well limed land, contains fifty pounds of calcium per ton. Calcium and magnesium are supplied to the soil by the use of lime.

Read more from Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide:
Farm Manure
How To Store Vegetables

If you are interested in either loaning us an antique volume to use in reprinting or republishing selections from, or there is a particular volume/selection you wish to see on our website or in the pages of Small Farmers Journal, please contact our office via phone, email, or good old-fashioned pen and paper.

Spotlight On: Crops & Soil

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

This is the account of how one farm put more horse power into the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of its potato crop. Ever since we began farming on our own in 1994 one of our principle aims has been the conversion of our farm operation to live horse power wherever feasible. This has meant replacing mechanized tools such as tractors and rototillers and figuring out how to reduce human labor as we expanded upon the labor capacity of our work horses.

Starting Seeds

From Dusty Shelves: A WWII era article from Farming For Security

Henpecked Compost and U-Mix Potting Soil

We have hesitated to go public with our potting mix, not because the formula is top secret, but because our greenhouse experience is limited in years and scale. Nevertheless, we would like to offer what we have learned in hopes of showing that something as seemingly insignificant as putting together a potting mix can be integrated into a systems approach to farming.

Cultivating Questions Ridge-Till Revisited

Cultivating Questions: Ridge-Till Revisited

Delay ridge building until early fall so that the cover crop on the ridge does not grow more than 12” tall before winter. The residues from a short cover crop will be much less challenging to cultivate than a tall stand of oats, especially if tangly field peas are mixed in. Waiting for the winterkilled cover crop residues to breakdown as long as possible before ridge-tilling in the spring will also make cultivation much easier until you gain familiarity with the system.

Planting Calendar and Other Diagrams

From Dusty Shelves: A 1943 calendar for seeding your vegetable garden.

Winter Production of Fresh Vegetables

Winter Production of Fresh Vegetables

by:
from issue:

Any claim about winter production of fresh vegetables, with minimal or no heating or heat storage systems, seems highly improbable. The weather is too cold and the days are too short. Low winter temperatures, however, are not an insurmountable barrier. Nor is winter day-length the barrier it may appear to be. In fact most of the continental US has far more winter sunshine than parts of the world where, due to milder temperatures, fresh winter vegetable production has a long tradition.

Prairie Grass A Jewel Among Kernels

Prairie Grass: A Jewel Among Kernels

by:
from issue:

Years ago, my brother advised against plowing the patch of prairie on the back forty of our Hubbard, Iowa farm. “Some day,” he predicted, “that prairie will be as valuable as the rest of the 40 acres. We know how to grow corn; but that prairie was seeded by the last glacier.” Left untilled by generations of my family, the troublesome treasure has now become a jewel among a cluster of conventional crops on the farm.

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

We were inspired to try no-tilling vegetables into cover crops after attending the Groffs’ field day in 1996. No-tilling warm season vegetables has proved problematic at our site due to the mulch of cover crop residues keeping the soil too cool and attracting slugs. We thought that no-tilling garlic into this cover crop of oats and Canadian field peas might be the ticket as garlic seems to appreciate being mulched.

Syrup From Oregons Big-Leaf Maple

Syrup From Oregon’s Big Leaf Maple

by:
from issue:

There is a great potential in establishment of a seasonal “sugarbush” industry for small farmers of the northwestern states, particularly western Oregon and Washington. Five syrup producing species of maples are found mainly east of the Rocky Mountains. The Box Elder and the Big-leaf Maple are the only syrup producing maples of the Pacific Northwest. Properly made syrup from these two western maples is indistinguishable from the syrup of maples of the midwestern and northeastern states.

Wild Potatoes and Calcium

Wild potatoes bring increased calcium for better tubers.Have you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato — and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate Part 2

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 2

Finding just the right cover crop-tillage combination for crops planted the last half of June has always been a real challenge in our location. While surface-tilling mature rye and vetch in May works well for fall crops established in July and August, this cover crop-tillage combo does not allow enough time for decomposition and moisture accumulation for end-of-June plantings.

Cabbage

Cabbage

by:
from issue:

Cabbage is the most important vegetable commercially of the cole crops, which include cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, collard, broccoli, and many others. It also ranks as one of the most important of all vegetable crops and is universally cultivated as a garden, truck and general farm crop. The market for cabbage, like that for potatoes, is continuous throughout the year, and this tends to make it one of the staple vegetables.

Fjordworks Horse Powered Potatoes Part 2

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes Part Two

These types of team implements for digging potatoes were the first big innovation in horse powered potato harvesting in the mid-19th century. Prior to the horse drawn digger the limitation on how many potatoes a farmer could plant was how many the farm crew could dig by hand. The basic design of these early diggers works so well that new models of this type of digger are once again being manufactured by contemporary horse drawn equipment suppliers.

Making Sorghum Molasses

Making Sorghum Molasses

by:
from issue:

Growing sorghum doesn’t take much work, according to Buhrman. You plant it in the spring, work it a couple of times and that’s about all that’s required until late in the growing season. That is when the work begins. Before it is cut, all the stalks have to be “bladed” – the leaves removed from the stalks. It’s then cut, then the tassles are cut off, and the stalks are fed through a crusher. The crusher forces the juices out of the plant. The sorghum juice is then boiled in a vat for four to five hours until nothing is left but the syrup.

Cultivating Questions: Alternative Tillage & Inter-Seeding Techniques

Our intention is not to advocate the oddball living mulches we use with this single row inter-seeding system, but just to show how it is possible to utilize the between-row areas to improve insect habitat, reduce erosion, conserve moisture, fix some nitrogen, and grow a good bit of extra organic matter. If nothing else, experimenting with these alternative practices continues to keep farming exciting as we begin our twentieth season of bio-extensive market gardening.

Lost Apples

Lost Apples

The mindboggling agricultural plant and animal diversity, at the beginning of the twentieth century, should have been a treasure trove which mankind worked tirelessy to maintain. Such has not been the case. Alas, much has been lost, perhaps forever. Here are images and information on a handful of apple varieties from a valuable hundred year old text in our library.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 1

Our mild climate makes it too easy to overwinter cover crops. Then the typically wet springs (and, on our farm, wet soils) let the cover put on loads of topgrowth before getting on the soil. Buckwheat is the only crop that I can be certain will winterkill. Field peas, oats, annual rye and crimson clover have all overwintered here. Any suggestions?

Walki Biodegradable Mulching Paper

New Biodegradable Mulching Paper

Views of any and all modern farming stir questions for me. The most common wonder for me has been ‘how come we haven’t come up with a something to replace plastic?’ It’s used for cold frames, hotbeds, greenhouses, silage and haylage bagging and it is used for mulch. That’s why when I read of this new Swedish innovation in specialized paper mulching I got the itch to scratch and learn more. What follows is what we know. We’d like to know more. LRM

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT