By Caitlin Hall of ReRoot Organic Farm 

So soil, undoubtedly the most important piece of the gardening puzzle.  Also possibly the most complex and difficult to understand, at least for someone like me who didn’t fare so well in high school biology.  Despite this, I’ve found ways to ensure my soil is healthy, fertile, and able to support the crops I want to grow on it.  And I didn’t have to do it alone!

To start with, site selection is very important for ensuring good soils for growing.  While you can amend and add fertility to soil, life is much easier if you start with a good foundation for healthy soil.  When I was looking at buying farms, I consulted a soil map to determine what soil types were present on the farms and then also took along a shovel when I went to view the farms to take home a sample.  Soil maps for Ontario can be accessed through the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada website at:http://sis.agr.gc.ca/cansis/publications/surveys/on/index.html Sandy loam is typically the easiest soil upon which to market garden but it is also possibly to grow great vegetables on a heavier clay loam soil (Listowel Loam, like the soil on the farmland I rented for my first 4 years of market gardening) and on a silt loam (Teewswater Silt Loam, the soil on my present farm).  If you start from a reasonable foundation (not bedrock, pure clay, swampland, etc), keeping soil healthy and fertile is all about management.

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