Down: Garden Makeover winners rake in soil suggestions
For the Bellingham Herald
Remember making mud pies? We
just might have been onto something there.
Much to the surprise of the
Herald’s Garden Makeover winners Dave and Teresa Anderson,
garden columnist George Kaas suggests that gardeners sample the
dirt in their yards. The taste test can help figure out which
nutrients it’s loaded with – and those it might be missing.
“Any good farmer or soil
scientist can tell a great deal about a soil by tasting some,”
says Kaas. “With a little experience, you can discern a slightly
acid or alkaline reaction.” The Andersen’s soil, to George’s
taste buds, was rather sterile and almost metallic in its reaction
before they amended it with compost and peat.
Looking at loam
To prepare the soil in a
flowerbed intended for a cutting garden, the Anderson’s
amended the dirt, adding two
yards of composted dairy manure and peat moss. They now have a
good balance in grit for drainage and cohesiveness for nutrients.
An avid garage-saler, Dave
Anderson picked up this pick mattock nearly a decade ago, unsure
when it would come in handy. “It’s something a convict would
use,” he jokes. Over the years, he’s used it to dig ditches
and break up asphalt. It
came in handy pulling out masses of kinnikinnick ground cover
creeping along a sizable flowerbed.
soil can determine how silty or sandy it is. Silty soil is heavy,
clay-like and sticky, especially when wet, while sandy soil is
light and dry. Loam, the ideal soil structure, falls favorably
between the two. A suitable soil structure for flowers and
vegetables balances between clay, sand and loam, which allows
drainage while permitting water retention.
Sledge is a Bellingham freelance writer.