On a world-wide basis, roughly two thirds of the planet’s organic carbon has been lost during the last 50 years of extractive agriculture. In Arkansas, the average soil organic matter has decreased to 1.25 percent. Five percent organic matter is a reasonable goal for garden soils.
Whether you use organic or conventional methods, adding humates to the soil is a good choice. Almost all humates are extracted from Leonardite or lignite, often referred to as brown coal. Humates not new, and fifty years of research has quantified the multiple benefits. Though often labeled simply as “humid acid,” there may be many organic acids (like those that are found in humus) in the product. Humic acid is available locally.
The benefits of humates directly parallel the benefits of humus -- pH buffering, moisture retention, microbe stimulation, soil structure enhancement, improved nutrient uptake, and even removal of toxins (like Roundup). These and other benefits result in reduced need for fertilizers. Humid acid has an extremely high Cation Exchange Capacity (450), so serves a tremendous benefit in reducing leaching of other minerals. We all needed that in April and May. Reduced leaching saves money.
The product comes in liquid or the dry form. Several on-line sources mix the product with other helpful soil amendments like kelp (for potassium) or beneficial microbes. Whether you use the liquid or the dry, a little goes a long way. One quart of the locally available humic acid (12%) covers 5,000 square feet.
This is not just a garden product. It is used on lawns, orchards, pastures, and grain crops.
Spring and Summer Crops are turning out very well, despite the cool spring, rain and now the HOT June. The photos below show onions, beets, carrots, cabbage, peppers, and potatoes harvested on June 17. Tomatoes, beans, okra, and sweet potatoes look very good. Of course, they love this hot weather. These are some of the easiest vegetables to grow. Learn the details. See below.
Fall Gardening is just six weeks away, and I have already been talking with folks about some of the specific things that are needed to be successful. It seems, just when the gardening enthusiasm begins to wane (in hot August), that is the time to re-charge for the fall. Paying attention to the garden in the fall is critical to winter weed control and having a healthy soil in the spring.