Last month I described a number of ways that salt can creep into our garden soil. Here are a couple more, plus what you can do about it.
We all know that it’s a bad idea to pour salt on the ground in our gardens. After all, that’s what invading armies did—they salted the ground, effectively sterilizing it and therefore starving the population. Even the ubiquitous recipe for “Homemade All-Natural Weed Killer”—you know, the one with salt, vinegar, and Dawn detergent (and since when is Dawn “all natural”?)—warn against using the concoction where you want other plants to grow. Salt in the soil is bad news for gardeners.
Yes, you wouldn’t intentionally spread rock salt on your dirt, but that’s only one way to end up with soil too salty to support plants. There are other, more insidious ways to salt your soil. Continue reading “Don’t Salt the Soil!”
To a gardener choosing which plants to grow, pH is an important consideration. While the pH of most soils falls somewhere between 3 and 9, the majority of common landscape plants prefer a pH slightly on the acidic side, say 6.2 to 6.8. However, some plants, such as blueberries and rhododendrons, prefer an even more acidic soil (with a pH in the 5 to 6 range) and other plants, green ash trees and clematis, for example, do best under more alkaline conditions, with a pH above 7.
We just returned from an intense two-week road trip to the Great Lakes. We visited thirteen states and one province and saw at least a glimpse of all five Great Lakes. You can see our route at right. It was a great trip. We took lots of photos, plus our drive across the prairies of North Dakota means that I’ve finally checked off my bucket list goal of visiting all 50 states! Continue reading “It’s Not Just the Zone”
One of my perverse pleasures is perusing Pintrest to find bad garden advice. There’s certainly no lack of misinformation on the web, and Pintrest seems to collect it all. Most advice is simply a waste of time and money—sprinkling Epsom salts on your plants, spraying weeds with vinegar, pouring beer on your lawn. They don’t help, but they won’t kill your plants either. However, yesterday I came across a recommendation that will seriously damage your garden. I was so horrified that I immediately sat down to write this post.
Last week I shared how to determine the make-up of your soil. This knowledge is helpful, but it doesn’t solve the problem of soil so hard, you can’t get a shovel into it. That’s what we’ll cover today.
Most often, soil that is rock-hard is mostly clay. Sand can get hard, too, but it’s much more forgiving. They don’t make pottery out of sand. So what do you do with your compacted clay? Here are some do’s and don’ts.
My soil is rock hard! That’s a common complaint along Colorado’s Front Range. Our soils tend to extremes—we find that we’re either dealing with sand and decomposed gravel (the remains of glacial moraines), or clay. Then, to make things worse, soil becomes compacted over time. Roots can’t force their way through compacted soils, plus there’s no place for air or water. How do we turn compacted dirt into soil that nurtures life?
Epsom salts are often recommended as ways to improve your garden. A quick Google search turned up claims that they will improve seed germination, increase the size and number of flowers, reduce fruit drop, increase nutrient absorption, counter transplant shock, green up your lawn, prevent leaf curling, deter slugs, kill weeds, grow sweeter fruit, produce sweeter tomatoes with fewer problems such as blossom rot, increase pepper yields, and result in more and bigger roses on healthier plants. Wow. With benefits like these, we should all be putting Epsom salts in our gardens!
We have plants! No more mud, no more growing chasm in the backyard where the runoff was carrying our dirt away. The landscapers finally arrived and we now look a lot more finished.
Three weeks have now passed since we took ownership of our new house. Three weeks of lugging heavy furniture from room to room until it looks “right”—or ends up in the “to sell” pile. Three weeks of unpacking boxes only to find we need to add shelving to closets before the contents have a place to land. Three weeks of making decisions—picking out new bar stools for the counter in the great room, choosing a table and chairs for the deck, researching what kind of window coverings we might want. Three weeks of spending every spare moment indoors, settling in.