We have learned over the years that the quality of the soil greatly affects the quality of the food being grown. Intensive vegetable gardening requires intensive soil work, to maintain nutrients & tilth. Carbon / Nitrogen ratios, pH level, and ratios of nitrogen. Phosphorus, potassium, calcium and trace minerals are all very important, and vary between climates (dry to wet), and soil types, even within a single state. Different crops need different things to ensure nutrition. We have learned how to make quality compost, and use it sparingly, with regular additions of organic fertilizer including seed meal, dolomite lime, kelp meal and bone meal. However, you don’t know what to add, or how much to add, without a quality soil sample (yearly at the minimum, depending on climate and crop rotation), and the understanding of how to interpret the findings of that report.
One of the first to understand the relationships between soil nutrients and food nutrients was William Albrecht. Through comprehensive testing, he developed a number of theories that have held true for decades, indicating the better we do at providing quality food for our plants, the batter they can provide quality food for us. Just eating “organic” isn’t good enough.
“William A. Albrecht (1888–1974) PhD, Chairman of the Department of Soils at the University of Missouri, was the foremost authority on the relation of soil fertility to human health and earned four degrees from the University of Illinois. As emeritus Professor of Soils at the University of Missouri he saw a direct link between soil quality, food quality and human health. He drew direct connections between poor quality forage crops, and ill health in livestock and from this developed a formula for ideal ratios of cations in the soil, the Base Cation Saturation Ratio. While he did not discover cation exchange in the soil as is sometimes supposed, he may have been the first to associate it with colloidal clay particles.”
To learn more about these relationships, so you can also grow better quality food, we offer the following resources:
One of my favorites, and currently free on Kindle, and Kindle Cloud Reader (no Kindle needed, just a PC):
Additional excellent references:
Soil Fertility & Animal Health (The Albrecht Papers, Vol II )