You might not realize how much pampering goes into gardening…
especially when installing new plants. Some gardeners think using native plants is the cure all for plant pampering, but that is never the case when getting plants fresh from the nursery established to new conditions. And new conditions are not always the best either.
Matching your plant selection to existing conditions is rarely the case in a garden that incurred a built environment, which is almost every homeowner garden. Commonly, people just consider light and shade conditions, not necessarily soil nutrient, texture and pH, among some very important other considerations.
Compaction, construction debris and a host of environmental changes to a property is never going to be the same as native soils before building occurred. In my profession, we do soil testing, and for far more than soil pH tests which homeowners can perform on their own.
We do soil survey testing for whether soils will support building (soil stability) and whether water exists below grade (soil that has a seasonal high water table can flood out deep rooting plantings, especially trees or home basements). Also soils are tested for soil depth and available quality topsoil storing or replacement.
Soils are tested for soil texture (particle size).
To understand particle size in soils, “if a particle of clay were the size of a BB, then a particle of silt would be the size of a golf ball and a grain of sand would be the size of a chair.” Penn State Cooperative Extension
Soils are tested for grade slope and ways to mitigate erosion. Your garden has similar conditions to all as mentioned.
It is complicated, but a property is made for the building, not necessarily the plants installed later.
Generally building and site management does not change the structure of deeper soil layers. You might have your deeper soil layers checked to see if they may affect drainage and root penetration.
Each soil will interact with each other. By studying more than 25 soil properties it is determined how suitable the soil will respond to land use and management. This is way more than a home gardener needs to know, but when growing crops, it is very needed information. If a garden is lacking in needed chemicals or nutrients, then plants will show the deficiency.
Soil is very complex in its ability to sustain living organisms too. Many living organisms keep soils healthy from, bacteria, nematodes, arthropods, fungi, algae, to protozoa. In fact, more living organisms occur in soil than in all other ecosystems combined. Earthworms, grubs, slugs, crickets, ants and mites munch and tunnel the soil during feeding, which aids in aggregation, water movement, aeration and thatch degradation. Keeping soil “alive” is important.
Righting bad soils is work, time and money. Some soils, as heavy clay and limestone, are always going to remain somewhat difficult, even with added amendments. It really is a chore to amend yearly. My area is this type of soil.
In spring after the ground movement from winter, the clay soil is friable and soft, easy to till. Amendments work nicely then, even by hand to 12 inches deep. By summer’s end, the clay rises, swells and hardens where the ground is almost impenetrable in my area. Native or not, all plants face the same unyielding conditions.
My home is almost 100 years old, and I am still unearthing construction debris this many years later. An architect today specs removing debris from the site, but how often is the case when a pit is dug after hours and debris is dropped in? I have caught contractors doing this. It costs them many dollars per ton for disposal, so they save where they can. Violating the contract costs them dearly.
Drainage is another issue too when a site has been altered. Drainage problems are plant killers.
Time for some plant pampering… on Wednesday with dropping temperatures the tender plants needed covering and containers made their way to the garage. The news said winter is back, but that was quite the exaggeration. Thursday, all plants were perky as I uncovered them to a bright sunny morning. Pampering averted…
Hard to believe, but our area is suffering already from lack of rain and unseasonable temperatures. Photos from the garden, May 11th and 13th.
Next post, Are Annuals More Expensive Than Perennials? then a followup on soil, Taking Care of the Soil with more of my garden photos. Plus coming up, Allium in the Garden, a few new varieties and some talk about what might not be in bloom for the Garden Bloggers’ Fling. Make sure to see the post Gardening With Allium with a list of great plant partners. What’s a plant post without the companion plants that make a great presentation?
With the Fling right around the corner, see what my garden has in bloom each day leading up to the Fling. When you Flingers get to Niagara Falls on Monday, give me a wave, I am only 5 minutes walk away.