Skip to comments.Weekly Gardening Thread (Soil Structure Part 1) Vol. 9, March 2, 2012
Posted on 03/02/2012 8:10:56 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde
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.)
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.
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.
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 wont be flamed and the only dumb question is the one that isnt 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!
Oh, no! I am so thankful that you’re okay. Can your raised bed be salvaged?
Thank you so much for that feedback. Much appreciated.
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.
You’re welcome, greeneyes. I’d love to see photos of your new plantings, especially the strawberry bed!
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.
Wish I could remember exactly what that elderly man told me. He's gone now and I can't ask him. :(
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!
I’ll just have to break it down into components and rebuild it.
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.
I think we call that "New Guinea Impatiens" around here.
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.
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.
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.
Their New Guinea Impatiens here also...
Thank you for that info.
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.
How about a couple of Chili Plants or even Tomatoes
Well, you don’t get any color (other than green) out of tomatoes until August.
Got it! Thank you, both for the happy and the funny story!
I am always apprehensive when using snail mail.
One other thing, the mower went to the shop today! :)