Monday, June 13, 2016

The Importance of Good Soil

Monday, June 13, 2016

A damp, cold, blustery day here on the mountain above Peacham Pond this morning. 44.3° with a varying, three to five mph wind. Karl the Wonder Dog has been out for two walks but each time as the rain increased,  he ran for the house. He doesn't know that we really need the rain but he does know that he likes the warmth of the wood stove that has been fired up since last night.

We have been busy at the flower farm since our Mother's Day opening and have had a very encouraging number of visits, customers and also web based plant orders from across the US. We have always encouraged people to stop by with gardening questions even if they aren't in the market yet for plants. This gives people the opportunity to see who we are and how devoted we are to growing good plants.

Yesterday afternoon during a very brief break in the rain, I started to weed out the new lilac garden alongside Route 2, down by the hosta display garden. As I kneeled on the slope, my backside getting wet at times, it came to me that I should remind folks to think about their soil more than they probably do. The soil I was working was extremely acidic soil, full of a variety of weeds but still growing very nice two year to four-year-old lilacs because I had amended the planting holes well. The surrounding soil is a disgrace to a good gardener, however, and clearly needs some  help. Just the same it serves as an example of the importance of  good soil.

I once worked with a young man who was in the business of planting food crops for hunters interested in "growing" a larger deer crop, bear and turkeys on their own land. He taught me to notice the weeds that were growing in my soils and said that from there I could adjust the soil accordingly. His comment was that if I could balance the soil better, many of the nuisance weeds would disappear and the plants I wanted to grow would do much better. He was correct.

There are a couple of good books on the market that list the weeds of New England and the soil types they enjoy. There are probably similar books that will help you regardless of where you read this blog from. For me, maple leaves are the chief amendment because I know they contribute a great deal to improving my soil and I also have an abundant supply of them each fall. I also buy several tons of Foster Brothers Composted Cow Manure each year because it helps with my plants and is weed-free. I do not broadcast it within 

my gardens but instead use it within rows or under each new plant. This helps the plants more directly and short term is a little less expensive. Since Gail and I started Vermont Flower Farm on Route 2, we have literally added tractor trailer loads of manure, leaves and various other organic materials to our garden beds. Our site was actually the bottom of the Winooski Ocean 15,000 years ago so it's a soil that needs a great deal of "rebalancing". We have a long way to go and perhaps you do too but develop a plan like we have and continuously try to improve your soil. It makes a difference!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the rain has started again. I'm headed to the flower farm in minutes and will be there until noon when Gail takes over and I head for an appointment. If you have any gardening questions, let us know.  Sharing good information about gardening is a passion with us!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Writing on various gardening-related social media formats

And always here to help you grow your green thumb!

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