Saturday, March 3, 2012

Two Soils To Be Tested

Top: Backyard; Bottom: Garden Plot
This is almost as fun as growing tadpoles! Today, I collected two soil samples to be tested by the University of Delaware. I carefully cleaned my tools and bucket and headed over to the community garden, where I took ten spade fulls of soil from different locations in the plot. Next I did the same from eight locations along my new fence. Then I set the dirt out in two trays to dry in the sun.

The two soils each have different jobs to do. The community garden, of course, is my vegetable garden and along my fence, I'll be growing three new rose bushes—Rosa Bonica, Rosa Pinata and Rosa Blaze Improved—as well as some hydrangeas, a kalmia and a fothergilla. The lab asks for information about what will be required of the soil. Satisfyingly, the soil that I collected from the plot was about 150 percent improved over the soil that I started with last summer. When I stuck my spade into the soil, it easily sank deep into the ground without much pressure. Last fall, I grew clover and then turned it over in trenches and then covered it with leaf gro.

Meanwhile, the soil from the fence was dense, buried beneath ivy and full of tough roots and rocks. I had to work hard to break the surface and get the spade into the ground. In many locations, I couldn't really get down to the desired depth of 6 to 8 inches. And the two soils showed a remarkable difference in color. The prepared soil was blacker with traces of clay and the fence soil was more red with hard balls of clay that wouldn't break apart. Tomorrow, I'll measure out one and a half cups from each tray and fill each bag and then mail it off. I'm supposed to have the results back in ten days or so. The Putterer

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