Soil compaction can create problems in the garden

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Gardening season is in full force with the threat of frost now behind us.  Before the garden went in, we had soil on our minds with testing the soil for fertilizer and lime.  How-ever, now is also a good time to think about your soil.

I have talked about soil compaction in cropland, but soil compaction also creates an unfriendly growing environment for garden plants. 

It is a serious problem for many home gardeners.  Thankfully, it is relatively easy to prevent.

Compaction transforms soil into a difficult environment for plant growth by making it harder for roots, water and soil to penetrate the ground. 

Major causes are working the soil when it is too wet, foot traffic, and excessive rototiller use.

To reduce this problem, it is best to avoid working in the garden or walking in it when the soil is too wet.  Squeeze a handful of soil and if it forms a muddy ball, rather than crumbling when you open your hand, stay out of the garden area.

Walk between plants and rows in the garden area to reduce compaction in primary plant growth areas.

Excessive rototiller use destroys soil structure and promotes compaction.  When compaction takes place in a dense soil structure, it also makes root growth more difficult.

A little hand hoeing, rather than a rototiller, may be all you need to do to eliminate a few weeds. 

It usually causes less soil damage than repeated rototilling and is less harmful to the earthworms that help aerate the soil.

You also can use mulch to control weeds instead of tilling. 

A two- to three-inch layer of mulch relieves the pressure of walking on the soil, reducing the degree of compaction.

If you have any gardening questions, especially those questions related to plant diseases and insects, feel free to call the Extension office to identify any issues that may be present.

For more information on home gardening, contact your Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service at (502) 732-7030.


Time for the
county fair

The Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service would like to invite you to come see the 4-H and open fair exhibits as well as the 4-H and Open livestock shows during the upcoming week.

About 30 Carroll County 4-H’ers have created over 130 4-H exhibits to be judged this year in over 30 different categories. 
In addition, there will be animal and livestock shows in beef, swine, sheep, poultry, rabbit, goat, and dog.

We are expecting a great 4-H Fair this year, so please come out and support the youth of Carroll County.

of interest

June 5: Carroll County Agricultural Development Council Meeting, 8 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.  The Carroll County Agriculture Fund Inc. will meet directly after the council meeting.


Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.