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Don't Miss Pages Two, Three and Four

Friday, June 17, 2005

Starting from the Ground Up
As promised, here's the scoop on soil basics.
  • Clay soil for growing plants is one of the most difficult conditions you can face. When wet it is dense and slippery.  It bakes brick hard when dry. Is there anything redeeming about clay?  Yep.  Clay tends to be much higher in nutrients than sand.  After digging out 2 tons of clay from my front yard  (it took four months of digging and bagging)  then three men took one hour to load the truck and haul the clay away.  A back-breaking labor of love. No longer do I worry about plants' roots rotting from the lack of proper drainage caused by compacted clay. Check out the Seasonal Tips Page for some suggested plants for clay soil.
  • Sandy ground This is one of the easiest problems to fix. Simply  double dig  by removing a small section of sandy ground, 10 to 12 inches deep.   Then make a mixture of the removed sand  with organic compost,  earthworm castings and some good organic soil. Fill the hole you just dug with this wonder mixture. Repeat the procedure until you have completely amended the entire area to be planted. Time consuming?  You bet.  I know of no better method for long-term amending of sandy ground.
  • "What?"  Is there an easier method for clay soil?  I don't know of any. An easier method for sandy ground? Yes. Simply dig a hole three times as wide and deep as the new plant and mix the removed sand with organic compost, earthworm castings and some good organic soil. Add some of this new wonder mixture to the bottom of the hole, add the plant, fill the hole with water. Now, fill the hole with the remaining wonder mixture. Remember, only fill the hole up to the original level of the new plant's stem.
4:26 pm pdt

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Your Garden as an Ecosystem
  • Today felt like a holiday but better. It was filled with satisfaction and fun. Rick, one of my most recent clients shared with me that he and his wife used "two kinds of Basil from our new herb garden at dinner and it was delicious." Afterwards, I met with a potential client who said, "Quite frankly, I'm not concerned about water." Surprise ...all of the plants that she especially likes turn out to be California Natives and low water usage.  How wonderful to do the work that I love and not have to "pitch"clients or try to convince them that organic methods and choices are both safer and more effective in working with the garden's natural ecosystem.
  • The organic approach means a healthier garden for you, your plants and the insects, birds and animals around you.. It is important to the natural balance of the garden that we do not try to eradicate all insects. As organic gardeners, we can accept plants that are not picture perfect.
  • Choosing the healthiest and most hardy plants for our planting zone is like having an insurance policy. Insects and diseases usually attack unhealthy plants or plants not suited to the planting zone.
  • Next time, the info. in this column will go from the "ground up" in sharing the best ways to  keep your garden beautiful and healthy. 'Till then enjoy the photo of the magnificent So. California and Baja native, Coulter's Matilija Poppy.



5:36 pm pdt

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Changes to this site are made on a regular basis.
All articles and photos unless otherwise credited are© by Elaine Wilson.
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GardensByDesign ®
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