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Soil Science!

How to make succulent soil!

Components of Soil
Components of Soil

Soil is made up of three major components:

  • Sand
  • Clay
  • Silt

These components make up about 45% of the soil volume. Water and air makes up 50% and organic matter the final 5%.

Organic matter consists of bacteria, fungi, worms, tiny creatures, decomposers and nematodes that all produce organic matter.

Microorganisms in the soil break down organic matter which provides nutrients for your plants to absorb. Billions of these microorganisms also fix macronutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK’s).  Micronutrients such as iron, copper, zinc, nickel and decomposition takes place from the decomposers.

Organic matter delivers a symbiotic relationship between plants and organisms and the best way to add organic matter in the soil is through composting. Therefore healthy soil is not just soil and mineral particles it’s both the organic matter and microorganisms that together are the real catalyst to a rich and perfect growing soil.

All organic matter has a ratio of a carbon to nitrogen ratio (C-N) in their tissues. While carbon is the basic building block of life and energy for microorganisms, nitrogen adds things such as proteins, genetic support and cell structure.

The composting microorganisms in the compost pile need the correct proportion of carbon (brown) for energy and nitrogen (green) for protein production. The best way to produce fast and fertile compost is to maintain this C-N ratio somewhere around 25 – 30 parts of carbon to 1 part nitrogen (30:1)

So if the C-N ratio is too high (excess carbon) the decomposition will slow down.  If the C-N ratio is too low example (excess nitrogen) you will have an anaerobic (smelly) versus aerobic (non-smelly) compost pile.

The type of composting that most people use is aerobic, meaning it contains air, moisture and heat to create organic matter. Most problems with compost piles can be corrected by creating the right C-N balance.

Food stocks to consider for carbon (brown) in the compost pile would be leaves, straw, twigs, shredded newspaper, peat moss, nut shells and sawdust.

Food stock to consider for nitrogen (green) in the compost pile would be vegetable scraps, aged manure, coffee grounds, grass clippings, fruit wastes, humus soil and general garden waste.