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!
It's not just dirt! Soil is a mixture of minerals, air, water, and organic materials, such as roots, decaying plant parts, fungi, earthworms, bacteria, and microorganisms. An acre of healthy topsoil can contain 900 pounds of earthworms, 2,400 pounds of fungi, 1,500 pounds of bacteria, 133 pounds of protozoa, 890 pounds of arthropods and algae, and in some cases, small mammals.
Funny that small mammals are mentioned. Every time we plow or disk a field for row crops, the mice and small rats running out of the way of the tractor is astounding. Hawks, herons and other birds are routinely drawn to a field with a moving tractor because they know that all sorts of mice, frogs and large insects will be stirred in the process.
One year I actually disturbed a fox den containing 4 kits. I won't even get into the variety of snakes we encounter!
Edible flower anyone it turns out I already have some of them in my herb garden
I have a different problem — well question — this year. I changed a deteriorating front door and 2 windows on my house in December and February. I’m in a quandary on what to plant in my urns on the front steps.
I think I want something RED to match the front door in a mixed urn. The terrace faces south, is surrounded in brick, and gets quite hot in the summer.It’s like an oven. There are mixed tulips and daffodils in the front gardens with bronze chrysanthemums that come alive in the fall. I can plant just about anything in there (in front of the boxwood) in the summer.
But what to put in the urns? I used to emphasize pink and purple. But, what should I do now that I have a red door? I’ll post a couple of pictures as soon as I get them on Flickr.
I want something that grows lush and trails. I’ll mix several plants, if necessary.
Good afternoon JustaDumbBlonde and all.
I just read the weekly garden column by Bill Finch in my hometown newspaper and he did a pretty good column on tomatos growing in the hot humid southern gulf coast. It was particularly good with discussion of tomato history, varieties and his SuperSoil, a cross between Lasagna gardening and composting.
OK. Here it is. THe underside of the porch roof gets done next week.
Suggestions of how I can decorate with flowers for the spring, summer, fall are appreciated? Colors? Plants? Anything beyond geraniums?
PS It looks like I’ll have some time to decide. Although I had just traces of snow left at noon, it is snowing hard and it looks like we’ll get several inches. I don’t imagine the garden stores will have any flowers in stock for a while...sarc/off
Cannabis sativa is a good choice but it is more upright in growth habit...
I don’t do no cannabis...no, no. That’’s a real Humboldt suggestion.
Mrs. Bender does all the wonderful impatiens which won’t thrive on my front porch. What does she do for a sunny location?
Supertunias. They’re a variety of petunia that grow long vines that spill out nicely.
>What does she do for a sunny location?<
Sunny? I guess she would move away from the coast for a sunny location...
Vincas are full sun look-alikes of Impatiens and come in several colors and are great for hanging baskets and urns. That is what we used a lot of in our full sun home in Mobile. Also, there is a variety of flowing Petunias that look great in urns and hanging baskets, but I am not sure if red is availible, my wife always favors purples!
I grow all tomatoes in containers; so I am giving some of the new ‘dwarf’ varieties from Tomatoville’s ‘dwarf tomato project’ a test drive this spring...I was able to get my hands on all thirteen that have been released to the public to date...
yes. I’ve used those before. Diana’s Garden Center has something this year called fuseables which arre pelletized seeds with several colors in one pellet. Ther is one called Key Lime Parfait which looks interestin — lime green, bright red, and white all in one pellet. The trouble is I would have to start them from scratch. I’d like somethimething that I could buy already started.
Good grief. If only we paid teachers more, they wouldn’t be forced to deal in illegal weed. sarc/off
I’m not familiar with the vincas whereof you speak! Vincas I know are a ground cover with little purple flowers, or a green and white vine that we use as “filler” in combined pots. When that stuff escapes the pot, you can never get rid of it. It is definitely “cold hardy”.
Have you looked into Baccopa. It is a prostrate plant with lots of small white flowers.
Baccopa is one of my favorites. I’d forgotten the name. It looks great combined with other flowers. It comes in several varieties — some of the flowers are miniscule and some are as big as my thumbnail.
Love the thread JaDB, thanks!
Boxlunch, I found an article written by a master gardener that you should check out. I also emailed them about needing to mow the leaves, and they replied....
“Letting the leaves fall where they may, works very well. The advantage to cutting-up/going over the leaves with a mower is that it helps/quickens the decomposition process, but it is usually not necessary. Personally, I leave the leaves on the flower beds/garden i.e., where they fall, but mow (mulching mower) the ones that fall on the lawn (feeds the lawn and saves raking them up). Note: Oak leaves are very slow to decompose so you may choose to chop them before spreading on your flower beds/garden.”
That is what I’m going to try this year.
Thats why I rarely mention varieties except where talking to another southerner. Things are vastly different 1000 miles northward! What we were getting came from Lowes and they buy from pretty much local nurseries.