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analize soil and subsoil by myself?

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I have 2 dumb questions.
In the book "edible forest gardens 2" it says before doing anything its important to analize soils and subsoils to decide what does it needs and when.
I was wondering if there is artesanal or easy way to analize my soil and subsoils? withouth going to the lab?
Or would you recommend to analyze my soil and subsoil in the lab?
Or what do you think about this? maybe its not necessary in my case because it seems in the US a lot of land are very degradated with heavy chemicals, so in that case its really important to make the analisis?

I have another question:
whats the role of substratum in the plant? Does the substratum affect the plant?
Why "edible forest gardens 2 " doesnt mention to analyze the substratum, only soil and subsoil?


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Sure, there's a lot you can do with just a little kit you can buy at the hardware store or just with a mason jar with water.

First, determine your soil texture. You can do this with a handfull of freshly dug soil. You do the "ribbon test" to determine the clay content. Here's a guide.

You can do the same thing with a jar of water. Fill a jar about half full with water, then dump in an equal volume of freshly dug soil. Screw the cap on and shake hard to fully disperse the soil into the water. Break up ALL lumps till you have a fine, uniform slurry. Now set the jar aside overnight to let the soil particles settle. The next day, evaluate the layers of sand, silt, clay, and floating organic matter. The relative portions of each will also tell you what your soil texture is.

You can purchase inexpensive chemical analysis kits from stores like Home Depot. Typically, they will tell you the soil's pH and the individual levels of Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus. Fertilize according to what the numbers tell you. Not knowing any better, I'd guess your typical forest track has soils a little acid. Most wild areas will not be heavily contaminated with chemicals, unless it's a former corn field. Roadside land may have lead or petroleum contamination. Kits you can purchase at Home Depot will tell you nothing about chemical contamination.
Posts: 1398
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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The ph kits don't tell you why the ph is like it is. It can be different things which makes it either acid or alkaline. I haven't tried the other kits but they seem to be crap.
There is a very good book "building soils naturally" by Phil Neuta. But I haven't done soil tests myself I try without so far.
There are some plants who tell you something about the soil. Most obviously some which show that the drainage is bad. As your land seems pretty unaltered I would either ask the neighbours or learn about the local geology or ask the equicalent of the agricultural extension office. They are not permies but they do have knowledge.
Neighbours who farm since a long time are the best to ask, they are the most likely to know what was done on your piece of land.
I think the very first thing you should do is go and camp there for some weeks. Wander around know every plant in the area, talk to everyone you see, look were the rain puddles, were the wind blows, how temperature between day and night changes....
Yeah. What he said. Totally. Wait. What? Sorry, I was looking at this tiny ad:
the permaculture bootcamp in winter
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