Acidic Soil is the characteristic of soils that have a pH level of less than 7 (a reading of 7 being “neutral”). Some plants thrive in acidic soils whereas others will suffer.
Aeration is the process of increasing air to the roots of plants, usually turf. This is done manually by using a spading fork to make regular holes in a lawn. It can also be done using a core aerator, a machine that takes small cores (2-3” long) at regular intervals.
Alkaline Soil Alkaline soil is referred to by some gardeners as “sweet soil.” The pH level of alkaline soil is above 7, and it usually contains a great deal of sodium, calcium, and magnesium.
Annual Plant that has a life cycle it completes in one year or one growing season. It grows from seed, flowers, fruits and dies all in one year. The seeds from plants that die this growing season, grow the next year.
Biodiversity is the variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem.
Calcium is used by plants in cell membranes, at their growing points and to neutralize toxic materials. In addition, calcium improves soil structure and helps bind organic and inorganic particles together.
Clay soil is made up of heavy particles and retains moisture well. It also tends to be more nutrient-rich than other soil types but can hold too much water, making it slow to drain. Most soils in the Pacific Northwest have a lot of clay in them.
Compaction can happen in soils with heavy traffic, or in clay soils. Essential air gaps in the soil that plant roots need, are lost from the soil and there is limited drainage. Puddling can often be seen in compacted soils.
Core Aeration of lawns is a process of removing small plugs (cores) from the lawn, allowing air flow, nutrients and water to penetrate roots, and also easing soil compaction.
Dethatching is the process of removing the ‘thatch’ build up of dead grass stalks and roots, and other organic material from a lawn, using a dethatching machine. Allowing water, nutrients and air to reach the roots and revitalizing the lawn.
Ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment, a complex network or interconnected system.
FertileTea is a probiotic compost tea designed to boost plant health naturally. Adds beneficial, living microorganisms to your soils.
Fertilizer is the nutrients that are added to the soil to improve plant health and growth.
Humic & Fulvic Acids boost plant growth and height, and enhance nutrient uptake.
GMO Genetically Modified Organism, where the DNA of an organism is changed to favor the expression of a certain gene or trait, eg disease resistance.
Herbicide A herbicide is any chemical used to kill weeds or plant material, or inhibit them from growing.
IPM Integrated Pest Management An ecosystem based approach to addressing insects, pests and diseases of plants, minimizing pesticide use. IPM focuses on biological and cultural controls.
Loam soil has the optimal balance of sand, silt, and clay to hold water and nutrients effectively so that plants can utilize them.
Magnesium is the central atom of the chlorophyll molecule. Without it, plants can’t process sunlight.
Macronutrients are essential nutrients needed by plants in large amounts; Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium Calcium and Sulfur.
Mycorrhizal Fungi are beneficial fungi that form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. They can attach to roots and connect plant root systems, extending their resources of water and nutrients.
N-P-K ratio is the three macronutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Together they make up the trio known as NPK, commonly listed on fertilizer products. Other important macronutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur.
Nematodes are not true worms, but multi-celled insects. They can be bad for plants, feeding on them, also sometimes transmitting viruses and bacteria, and causing galls. They can also be good, beneficial nematodes help break down compost, and ward off pest species in lawns and gardens.
Nitrogen is considered to be the most important nutrient. Plants absorb more nitrogen than any other element. It is needed to convert sunlight into sugars in Photosynthesis. Nitrogen is essential in making sure plants are healthy as they develop and nutritious to eat after they’re harvested.
Neutral Soil can be classified according to their pH value in the mid range between 6.5 to 7.5, neutral is toward the middle of the scale.
Neonicotinoids are insecticides similar to nicotine, popular for use as they are soluble in water. They are used to kill sap-sucking insects, but have been found to be toxic to pollinators such as bees and other beneficial insects through nectar and pollen.
Organic relating to or derived from living matter. “Organic soils” refer to soil that is not treated or amended with synthetic fertilizers or herbicides.
Perennial A plant that grows year after year for many seasons, usually dying back in the Winter, but returning with new shoots in the Spring.
pH in soils typically range from 3.5 and 10. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, so 7 falls in the middle of the scale. Readings over 7 indicate alkalinity, lower ratings indicate acidity. In higher rainfall areas the natural pH of soils typically ranges from 5 to 7, while in drier areas the range is 6.5 to 9. Pacific Northwest Soils typically are acidic.
Phosphorus helps plants form flowers and roots. It aids plants in moving energy throughout their vascular system. Most plants need a neutral pH to properly absorb this nutrient.
Potassium helps the plants make carbohydrates and provides disease resistance. It also helps regulate metabolic activities.
Rhizomes are stems that grow horizontally underground, that can put down roots and push up shoots. This is common in grasses.
Sandy soil has more sand to drain quickly and prevent waterlogged soil. Homes located close to the Puget Sound have a natural higher sand content.
Soil Life is the balance of organisms and nutrients in your soil. It is often said that a handful of soil has more living organisms than there are people on planet Earth.
Soil Nutrition refers to the balance of nutrients found in your soil. The most commonly listed nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Soil Texture (such as loam, sandy loam or clay) refers to the proportion of sand, silt and clay sized particles that make up the mineral portion of the soil. the amount of water the soil can hold. the rate of water movement through the soil.
Soil Type refers to the balance of particles and their relative sizes that make up soil texture, examples include: loam, sandy loam, clay loam.
Sulfur is a component of many proteins, enzymes, amino acids and vitamins, used in metabolic processes. Legumes need sulfur to fix Nitrogen. It helps plants develop disease resistance and form seeds.
Trace Elements are needed in plants in very small amounts. Boron, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum and Zinc.
Check out our recent topical blog posts for tips on organic gardening and environmental issues.