Spring is upon us and hopefully your garden is resurrecting itself after another winter. Maybe you have just found aussiegreenthumb.com as you have decided it is time to get out into your garden and make good use of the spring weather we will hopefully be getting! Part of the aussiegreenthumb.com philosophy is to ensure you are able to have a gardening lifestyle, today and tomorrow, and part of that is understanding gardening terms that can be thoroughly confusing, so each month I like to add a few more definitions for commonly occurring words within the gardening fraternity. If you are new to this series, you may like to catch up on the past entries.
To read through each of the individual articles in more detail, here you can access the entire series:
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 1 (January)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 2 (February)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 3 (March)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 4 (April)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 5 (May)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 6 (June)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 7 (July)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 8 (August)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 9 (September)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 10 (October)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 11 (November)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Recap Part 1
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Recap Part 2
For this month we will be looking at the terms loam, peat, humus and pH.
Loam – This is what every gardener is going for when they are working towards improving the soil in their gardens. Loam is the name given to good, fertile soil. Loam is not wet and sticky, nor dry and sandy. When you pick up fertile soil it should hold together but, unless it has just been watered, not leave your hand overly wet. Loam is made up of clay, humus (see below), sand and silt and also is rich with trace elements or minerals that most plants require to grow well.
Peat – Peat is an organic matter which does not contain large amounts of minerals of trace elements, that is added to soil to help improve it. When peat breaks down, it forms humus (see below) and this helps improve the soil. In particular it is good to add peat to dry, sandy soils, to help make the soil less dry and sandy.
Humus – Humus is formed when organic matter breaks down. It is a dark brown residue, particularly formed when vegetable matter breaks down. The term can also be applied to compost formed when leaf litter or grass clippings are partially decayed, which forms a brown, crumbly ‘humus’.
pH – This is a scientific term used in the gardening world to help us understand when soil is healthy. By understanding the pH level of soil we can work out what it is lacking to be considered ‘fertile’. Fertile soil, Loam, has a pH around 6-7. pH itself is a scale that informs us what the level of acidity in any given soil is. pH stands for ‘potential of Hydrogen’. Soils with a low pH are highly acidic and soils with a high pH are highly alkaline, the opposite of acidic.