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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
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.


“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: Book Reviews

Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing

Setting Up A Walking Plow

Here is a peek into the pages of Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing, written by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 3

What goes with the sale? What does not? Do not assume the irrigation pipe and portable hen houses are selling. Find out if they go with the deal, and in writing.

Livestock Guardians

Introducing Your Guard Dog To New Livestock And Other Dogs

When you introduce new animals to an established herd or flock, you should observe your dog’s reactions and behavior for a few days. Since he will be curious anyway, it is a good idea to introduce him to the new animals while he is leashed or to place the new animals in a nearby area.

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide

How to Store Vegetables

Potatoes may be safely stored in bits on a well drained spot. Spread a layer of straw for the floor. Pile the potatoes in a long, rather than a round pile. Cover the pile with straw or hay a foot deep.


Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.


Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

Old Man Farming

Spinning Ladders

You die off by passing away. You live on by passing on. I want to pass the culture of my life on slowly, over the ripening time of my best years.

Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees

Storey’s Guide To Keeping Honey Bees

It is well known that the value of pollination and its resultant seed set and fruit formation outweigh any provided by honey bee products like honey and beeswax.

Chicken Guano: Top-Notch Fertilizer

Whoever thought I’d be singing the praises of chicken poop? I am, and I’m not the only one. Chickens are walking nitrogen-rich manure bins.

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

You are probably thinking why would I want to dry up a doe? If the plan is to rebreed the doe, then she will need time to rebuild her stamina. Milk production takes energy. Kid production takes energy, too. If the plan is to have a fresh goat in March, then toward the end of October start to dry her up. The first thing to do is cut back on her grain. Grain fuels milk production.

Why Farm

Farming For Art’s Sake: Farming As An Artform

Farming as a vocation is more of a way of living than of making a living. Farming at its best is an Art, at its worst it is an industry. Farming can be an Art because it allows at every juncture for the farmer to create form from his or her vision.

Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows

Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows

From humor-filled stories of a life of farming to incisive examinations of food safety, from magical moments of the re-enchantment of agriculture to the benches we would use for the sharpening of our tools, Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows offers a full meal of thought and reflection.

Dont Eat the Seed Corn

Don’t Eat the Seed Corn: Strategies & Prospects for Human Survival

from issue:

Gary Paul Nabhan’s book “WHERE OUR FOOD COMES FROM: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov’s Quest to End Famine” (Island Press, 2009) is a weighty tome, freighted with implications. But as befits its subject it is also portable and travels well, a deft exploration of two trips around the world, that of the author following in the footsteps of a long-gone mentor he never met, the Russian pioneer botanist and geneticist Nikolay Vavilov (1887-1943).

Work Horse Handbook

The Work Horse Handbook

The decision to depend on horses or mules in harness for farm work, logging, or highway work is an important one and should not be taken lightly. Aside from romantic notions of involvement in a picturesque scene, most of the considerations are serious.

Horse Sense for Plain Farming

Horse Sense for Plain Farming

Book Review – The New Horse-Powered Farm by Stephen Leslie: Working with horses is not something you can learn exclusively through watching DVD training videos and attending workshops and seminars. These things and experiences can be very useful as auxiliary aids to our training, but they cannot replace the value of a long-term relationship with a skilled mentor.

Art of Working Horses

Lynn Miller’s New Book: Art of Working Horses

Art of Working Horses, by Lynn R. Miller, follows on the heels of his other eight Work Horse Library titles. This book tells the inside story of how people today find success working horses and mules in harness, whether it be on farm fields, in the woods, or on the road. Over 500 photos and illustrations accompany an anecdote-rich text which makes a case for the future of true horsepower.

Barbed Wire History and Varieties

Book Excerpt: The invention of barb wire was the most important event in the solution of the fence problem. The question of providing fencing material had become serious, even in the timbered portions of the country, while the great prairie region was almost wholly without resource, save the slow and expensive process of hedging. At this juncture came barb wire, which was at once seen to make a cheap, effective, and durable fence, rapidly built and easily moved.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT