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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 PDT

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.

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“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

Cabbage

Cabbage

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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.

Cane Grinding

Cane Grinding: An Age-Old Georgia Tradition

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Most sugar cane is processed in refineries to give us molasses, brown sugar, and various kinds of white sugar. However, some South Georgia farms that raise sugar cane still process it the old way to produce the special tasting sweetener for their own food. One such farm is the Rocking R Ranch in Kibbee, Georgia. It is owned by Charles and Patricia Roberts and their sons. The process they use has not changed in the past 100 years. This is how it is done.

Asparagus in Holland

Asparagus in Holland

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The asparagus culture in Holland is for the majority white asparagus, grown in ridges. This piece of land used to be the headland of the field. The soil was therefore compact, and a big tractor came with a spader, loosening the soil. After that I used the horse for the lighter harrowing and scuffle work to prevent soil compaction. This land lies high for Dutch standards and has a low ground water level, that is why asparagus can grow there, which can root 3 foot deep over the years.

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.

Barnyard Manure

Barnyard Manure

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The amount of manure produced must be considered in planning a cropping system for a farm. If one wishes to manure one-fifth of the land every year with 10 tons per acre, there would have to be provided two tons per year for each acre of the farm. This would require about one cow or horse, or equivalent, for each six acres of land.

Purslane, Portahoopies and Plow Planted Peas

Purslane, Portahoopies and Plow Planted Peas

For those not familiar with this tasty, nutritious weed, purslane can be a real challenge to manage in vegetable crops for a number of reasons. The seeds of this weed remain viable for many years in the garden, and generally do not germinate until hot weather — that is, after many of the market garden crops have already been planted. To make matters worse, this succulent plant often reroots after cultivation. Purslane also grows so close to the ground that it is impossible to control by mowing.

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.

Starting Seeds

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

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

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After three or four years we could see that the nature of our farming practices would continue to have detrimental effects on our soils. We were looking for a new approach, a routine that would be sustainable, rather than a rescue treatment for an ongoing problem. We decided to convert our fields to permanent planting beds with grassy strips in between where all tractor, foot and irrigation pipe traffic would be concentrated.

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.

Bamboo A Multipurpose Agroforestry Crop

Bamboo: A Multipurpose Agroforestry Crop

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The bamboos are gaining increased attention as an alternative crop with multiple uses and benefits: 1) domestic use around the farm (e.g., vegetable stakes, trellis poles, shade laths); 2) commercial production for use in construction, food, and the arts (e.g., concrete reinforcement, fishing poles, furniture, crafts, edible bamboo shoots, musical instruments); and 3) ornamental, landscape, and conservation uses (e.g., specimen plants, screens, hedges, riparian buffer zone).

Farm Manure

Farm Manure

Naturally there is great variation in manure according to the animals it is made by, the feeding and bedding material, and the manner in which it is kept. Different analyses naturally shows different results and the tables here given serve only as a guide or index to the various kinds. The manure heap, by the way, is no place for old tin cans, bottles, glass, and other similar waste material.

An Introduction Into Plant Polyculture

An excerpt from What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden
Companion Planting for Beginners

Open-Pollinated Corn at Spruce Run Farm

Open-Pollinated Corn at Spruce Run Farm

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The old way of selecting seed from open-pollinated corn involved selecting the best ears from the poorest ground. I have tried to select perfect ears based on the open-pollinated seed corn standards of the past. I learned these standards from old agricultural texts. The chosen ears of Reid’s average from 9 to 10.5 inches long and have smooth, well-formed grains in straight rows. I try to select ears with grains that extend to the end of the cob.

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.

Of Peace and Quiet

LittleField Notes: Of Peace and Quiet

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Walk with me for a moment to the edge of the Waterfall Field. We can lean on the gate and let our gaze soak up the mid-summer scene: a perfect blue sky and not a breath of wind. Movement catches your eye, and in the distance you see a threesome hard at work in the hayfield. Two Suffolk horses, heads bobbing, making good time followed by a man comfortably seated on a mowing machine. The waist high grass and clover falls steadily in neat swaths behind the mower. What you can’t help but notice is the quiet.

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