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Weekly Gardening Thread (Soil Structure Part 1) Vol. 9, March 2, 2012
Friday, March 2, 2012 | JustaDumbBlonde

Posted on 03/02/2012 8:10:56 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde

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Good morning fellow gardeners! Here in NE Louisiana the weatherman claims we will reach 90 degrees today. He is really starting to get on my nerves ... doesn't he know that this is the first week of March, for pete's sake? He could shade the truth and tell us it's going to be 68, it's not like he's given bad information before, he does it at least 3 days a week. But, I digress.

First off this week, I want to share a link that fanfan, one of our gardening FRiends in Canada, sent to me earlier in the week. Three seed-sowing techniques is sure to bring valuable information to many of our gardening notebooks. Thanks, fanfan!

I'd also like to share a link to an article that shows how to build a hoop house/greenhouse that is simple, yet extremely well done and strong. In An Early Start the author provides easy to understand instructions, along with photos, for constructing a year-round environment for gardening at home. At least one of these will be built at my house this year ... I've got most of the components that I can scrap up from my piles of useful junk.

I've been threatening y'all with information on soil structure, and this week I want to begin with some basic information that we'll build on over the weeks. I hope to get everyone thinking about making the most of their yards and gardens by understanding the things we have to work with. Many of you already practice soil management and understand the importance of structure. I hope that you will join the discussion and offer all of us your some of your knowledge and expertise.

Simply put, soil structure is a term that describes the arrangement of the solid parts of the soil and of the space located between them. Basic structure depends on the soil type you are working with. (see previous thread on soil types.)

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Soil structure is broken down into basic types, and is best determined by taking a sample of soil that has not been disturbed and looking closely at its shape. The shape of the soil will fall into one of the following categories: granular, crumb, blocky, platy, prismatic, columnar, single-grained, or massive. Note that massive soil is not pictured in the following diagram, but is basically unpermeable soil that is a solid block with no spaces.

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Each individual unit of soil in the overall structure is called a ped. Only about 50% of structure is solid material. The remainder is spaces of air, organic matter, water and minerals. Other riches in the soil are worms, mites, nematodes, deep growing plant roots, bacteria and fungi. All of these things together are indications of soil quality, and developing a management strategy to enhance that quality is a sure way to hit pay dirt.

Why is information on structure important to you and your garden? Structure determines how well your plants will grow. Good structure reduces erosion, improves root penetration and access to soil moisture and nutrients. Even seedlings will emerge easier in well managed soil due to less surface crust. Water infiltrates good structure better and is more readily retained. Some soil health consultants claim that garden productivity can improve 2 to 3 fold with improved structure.

The best news is that anyone can improve the structure of their soil. In coming weeks I will be setting out ways to do just that. I decided to do this in several parts for a couple of reasons: structure is not something that you've going to attack and change in the span of a week; and if I presented all of it in one thread, eyes would glaze over and we would all fall asleep and miss planting season. Photobucket

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The Weekly Gardening Thread is a weekly gathering of folks that love soil, seeds and plants of all kinds. From complete newbies that are looking to start that first potted plant, to gardeners with some acreage, to Master Gardener level and beyond, we would love to hear from you.

This thread is non-political, although you will find that most here are conservative folks. No matter what, you won’t be flamed and the only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked.

It is impossible to hijack the Weekly Gardening Thread ... there is no telling where it will go and that is part of the fun and interest. Jump in and join us!


TOPICS: Agriculture; Food; Gardening; Hobbies
KEYWORDS: garden; gardening; soil
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To: TASMANIANRED

Oh, no! I am so thankful that you’re okay. Can your raised bed be salvaged?


101 posted on 03/04/2012 8:43:38 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: SumProVita
"I really like that you have all the links to previous Gardening threads here."

Thank you so much for that feedback. Much appreciated.

102 posted on 03/04/2012 8:45:56 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: Ellendra
"You probably already know this, but for the sake of anyone reading who isn’t aware: never use black walnut anything in the garden."

A very useful tip. I won't even plant a black walnut on the property 'cause one of the oldtimers around here told me I shouldn't. Not sure how far away it would have to be.

103 posted on 03/04/2012 8:48:46 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: greeneyes

You’re welcome, greeneyes. I’d love to see photos of your new plantings, especially the strawberry bed!


104 posted on 03/04/2012 8:50:26 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: JustaDumbBlonde

From observation, anything outside the dripline is usually safe, as long as the leaves aren’t used as mulch, of course. The leaves don’t have much of that chemical in them, but enough of them piled on can have an effect.


105 posted on 03/04/2012 10:46:04 AM PST by Ellendra ("It's astounding how often people mistake their own stupidity for a lack of fairness." --Thunt)
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To: Ellendra
We are fortunate to have 3 or 4 black walnuts in a tree line on our farming ground, so not putting them on the homestead acreage works.

Wish I could remember exactly what that elderly man told me. He's gone now and I can't ask him. :(

106 posted on 03/04/2012 11:25:32 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: JustaDumbBlonde
You're welcome! I appreciate the seeds, too. Watch your mailbox for something from us.

Since wifie tilled the garden last weekend, and she re-installed the drip irrigation and landscape fabric today, the garden is hers this year. I am going to harden off my best 50 or so mater seedlings and figure on planting next weekend and sharing some seedlings with neighbors.

The orkra garden will be my chore. The selected area is full of roots and thick hard grass. That will be lots of fun!

107 posted on 03/04/2012 12:55:54 PM PST by rightly_dividing (You cannot put a gun rack in a Volt !)
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To: JustaDumbBlonde

I’ll just have to break it down into components and rebuild it.


108 posted on 03/04/2012 4:45:26 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (We kneel to no prince but the Prince of Peace)
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To: rightly_dividing
I received the following note on vincas from my daughter in NY:
In New Jersey, I discovered vinca...not the vine with purple flowers (sometimes labeled periwinkle) that people use for ground cover or the variegated vine people use as filler in pots, but an annual. It looks very much like impatiens, but can take full sun and is very tolerant of heat. They come in all sorts of colors. They don't mound like impatiens, but grow a bit more upright. They fill out and make a huge plant covered with flowers by the end of the summer and do not need to be pinched back. Pretty much the perfect plant for a lazy gardener! I can't ever find vinca in a big garden center, but a mom and pop place here grows them every year. He tells me that they are tricky to germinate and prone to root rot if you overwater and that is why Lowe's , etc. doesn't fool with them. He doesn't have them ready to sell until beginning of June, so I always talk him into selling me some in May before they have flowered. I never know what color I am going to get! Usually pinks, coral, white, and lavender are the most common colors. It does come in white with a red center and a gorgeous solid red, but those are few and far between. If I get them in the ground around Mother's Day with some Miracle Grow time release in the planting soil, they look fabulous by July and pretty up until the first frost. They are my go-to plant for full or afternoon sun.

I have never heard of this plant! This must be the sme one that you recommended. m going to have to look it up. They must call it something else around here.


109 posted on 03/05/2012 12:24:29 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: rightly_dividing
Is this your sun loving vinca?

I think we call that "New Guinea Impatiens" around here.

110 posted on 03/05/2012 12:31:27 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic
That looks about right , as I remember them; it has been a few years, though. We did not plant anything our last year in Mobile because we learned that we would be moving. I believe they were vinca minor. They were very cheap and bloomed from spring till fall; a cheap way to add lots of color to a problem area. They would grow to about 10-12in tall, then fall over. We had them in hanging baskets and urns on our front, west facing porch where nothing else could take the heat of the afternoon sun. We found volunteers growing all around the porch area, in cracks of the sidewalk,and in some beds in the front yard nearby. Down south, they bloom early, and long so my wife would choose mostly purple ones, her favorite color. One of our three small sunny areas here is at our mailbox, so she built a bed around there and we have vinca seedlings growing in our seedling incubator for planting there.

I will see if I can find some pictures later, but we had a computer virus on her laptop that has it on hold, and my pictures are not very organized from that time period.

111 posted on 03/05/2012 6:05:46 AM PST by rightly_dividing (You cannot put a gun rack in a Volt !)
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To: JustaDumbBlonde

LOL. I will have to work on that, we don’t plant outdoors till Mid May at least. I am techno-challenged, and don’t even have a digital camera. I will take pictures during the season, and post them once I use up the roll of film.


112 posted on 03/05/2012 11:44:48 AM PST by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: JustaDumbBlonde; Ellendra

I read several articles on this, and they said fifty feet from the drip line for things that are sensitive like Tomatoes.

Corn, beans, and wheat are supposedly tolerant to the walnut toxin, and can be closer. We have 2 garden patches that are next to walnut trees. So far, the corn beans and wheat crops have been pretty good in these patches.


113 posted on 03/05/2012 11:53:01 AM PST by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Their New Guinea Impatiens here also...


114 posted on 03/05/2012 2:21:35 PM PST by tubebender (I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.)
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To: greeneyes
"I read several articles on this, and they said fifty feet from the drip line for things that are sensitive like Tomatoes."

Thank you for that info.

115 posted on 03/05/2012 5:09:04 PM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: tubebender

Who knew they were vincas?

I’d be afraid to try them on my front porch, as pretty as they are. The sun and the heat are intense there in the summertime.


116 posted on 03/05/2012 8:57:02 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

How about a couple of Chili Plants or even Tomatoes


117 posted on 03/05/2012 9:13:54 PM PST by tubebender (I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.)
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To: tubebender

Well, you don’t get any color (other than green) out of tomatoes until August.


118 posted on 03/06/2012 6:33:10 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: rightly_dividing

Got it! Thank you, both for the happy and the funny story!


119 posted on 03/06/2012 8:46:33 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: JustaDumbBlonde
Thank you again.

I am always apprehensive when using snail mail.

One other thing, the mower went to the shop today! :)

120 posted on 03/06/2012 11:15:29 AM PST by rightly_dividing (You cannot put a gun rack in a Volt !)
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To: rightly_dividing

That’s funny too. :)


121 posted on 03/06/2012 4:48:05 PM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Next year I am planning on building a new seedling incubator, version 2.0. That will allow us to sprout 4 Jiffy trays of veggies and 4 trays of flowers in Jan. My wife wants to line a walkway with Impatiens much like the bed of vincas that you pictured, but I don't know if we can sprout enough of them.

Your home, flower beds and gardens are so beautiful that I could not begin to make suggestions to improve on what you have already done.

122 posted on 03/06/2012 4:52:48 PM PST by rightly_dividing (You cannot put a gun rack in a Volt !)
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To: rightly_dividing; tubebender
The problem with living in Wisconsin is that much of what you do has to be re-done each spring. That is good and bad. The good side is that you get to change plants and colors each year. The bad side is that it is a lot of work and expense.

Talk to tubebender about sprouting lots of impatiens. He and Mrs. Bender truly incubate and produce a prodigeous amount of impatiens for their house and their church.

On those vincas, my daughter wrote:

That's it! I first starting buying it at Secor Farms at a small family owned pumkin and annual farm (the last farm in Mahwah) around the corner from my house in Mahwah. They were the only thing that thrived in the pots on the steps of my sunny front porch.

It took me a couple of years to find someone here that sells it. Mr. Sokowloski has 7 or 8 greenhouses on his property on Grooms Road. He and his son run the nusery and he lives in the house at the front. He helps me out each spring because I start looking for it earlier than he puts it out for sale, but if I wait too long I don't have my pick of colors. So we have to go by the tags ..which aren't always accurate. Tammy plants them in South Carolina because it is very drought tolerant.

The only year they didn't last into October was this past summer when we had the remnants of a hurricane and the wind just about ripped them out of the pots and tore off quite a few branches. They were still alive, but didn't look very pretty

I have to laugh about this because this is NOT my daughter who is famed as a gardener. But, her yard always looks nice, and I see that she does put a lot of thought into it. The "Tammy" she refers to is my DIL in SC. So, here we are using the same plant in two disparate climates -- NY and SC. I've always been leery of those New Guinea Impatiens because I never thought they'd survive on my front porch.

123 posted on 03/06/2012 7:38:02 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Isn’t New Guinea a few miles south of the north pole? I asked Lady Bender to help you and her response was >I ain’t ever birthed no flowers in Wisconsin Mr Bender<


124 posted on 03/06/2012 8:17:58 PM PST by tubebender (I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.)
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To: tubebender; rightly_dividing

It’s Mrs. Rightly_Dividing who needs help. They want to grow lots and lots of impatiens from scratch in the Houston area.Quite a different climate from Humboldt.

I have never had good luck with any kind of impatiens. I have neighbors who can bring a few seedlings home from the garden center and they have carpets of color for the rest of the season. I can buy flats of impatiens, plant them 6 in. apart, and they’ll still be 6 in. apart in September. Just nothing.


125 posted on 03/07/2012 1:33:57 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Impatiens are popular in Mobile and do quite well as long as they are not in the hot sun. We tried them on our west facing porch, but they would not take the afternoon sun. The vincas, on the other hand, did well, so we planted a lot of vincas.


126 posted on 03/07/2012 6:26:54 AM PST by rightly_dividing (You cannot put a gun rack in a Volt !)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Lady Bender has great success with these 10 hole grow bags here and over at the church. I think I have posted photos them in full bloom...


127 posted on 03/08/2012 10:26:14 PM PST by tubebender (I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic; Red_Devil 232

Same here!


128 posted on 03/13/2012 5:26:51 PM PDT by fanfan (This is not my Father's Ontario. http://www.ontariolandowners.ca/)
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