YARD AND GARDEN: Good soil is the inspiration of profitable gardening | Residence & Backyard

0
121

Master gardener Kathy Hummel gives insights into the subject of clay.

Few things can scare gardeners as much as heavy clay soil. The basis for successful gardening is good soil. If you get the soil right, you are two thirds of the way to a beautiful garden. Unfortunately, few of us move into a house where the floor is already perfect.

When we moved into the country, we stood in front of a heavy clay floor that we could have burned to build bricks for our house. In fact, we dug a fire pit while building our house. Once when I was rummaging around there, I heard a “click” that turned out to be a piece of our beautiful earth that had been ignited by our burning!

Another story: The person who dug our sewer system told us that our soil is the type that contractors bring in to line the retention basins along the highways so they don’t leak.

GARDEN AND GARDEN: Fertilizing your plants doesn’t have to be a difficult decision

Why is clay soil so problematic?

The problem is that clay particles are very small compared to others found in the soil. For example, if a particle of clay were the size of a baseball, the average grain of sand would be the size of a greyhound bus, in relative terms. Because clay particles are so tiny, they easily pack up and become very dense, practically impermeable to water and air, which are essential for healthy soil.

People also read …

Use humus to improve clay soils

If you have clay soil, there’s no need to summon a backhoe or D-9 bulldozer to dig it up. A better idea is to change it. This will help break up the clay particles so water can trickle through and delicate roots can grow in the air pockets. These particles can best be separated by integrating coarser or larger particles such as humus. Humus is any rotten organic material such as rotten leaves, old ground bark, or compost. If you don’t have a compost bin, you can buy compost in sacks or even have it delivered in cubic meters.

Support local journalism

Your membership enables our reporting.

{{featured_button_text}}

Start by loosening the clay to a depth of about 20 to 10 inches in the area where you plan to create a bed. Make sure you do this when the floor is not wet. We who have clay soil know that it is difficult to catch it at the right stage between dirt and brick. It just takes a careful look. If you work it too wet, the soil will become even less accessible than before because it will destroy its structure and make it even more “petrified”.

Once the soil is broken up, add 3 inches of compost, 3 inches of soil, decomposed bark, and 1-2 inches of at least annual manure from herbivorous animals, not carnivores. Pay close attention to the AGED manure. If you use the fresh product, you will “burn” your plants. Yup. You will die.

Once you have added all the changes, down to the bottom until everything is well blended. If you don’t have access to a tiller, you can do it by hand with a garden fork or shovel. It just takes more effort. Think of it as cardio exercise. You know you’ve got the right texture when you can squeeze a damp handful of dirt into your fist and it reluctantly falls apart when you open your hand.

YARD AND GARDEN: Who Said You Can’t Eat Flowers?

A word about nice crap:

Well-rotted manure not only helps with the composition of the soil, but also brings nutrients. If you buy a bag of commercial base fertilizers like 13-13-13, you get 13% nitrogen, 13% phosphorus, and 13% potassium, but nothing else.

Granted, these are staple foods that plants need, but they also need other trace elements such as iron, boron and magnesium. Manure contains all of these trace elements, plus heaps of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For plants, manure is like a balanced meal and a multivitamin in one.

You can purchase sacked manure from your local garden center. Typically, bagged manure has undergone a heat process that sterilizes and helps deodorize any weed seeds that may be lurking around. You also don’t have to worry about it being too fresh and burning your plants. On the back of the pouch you will find the recommended usage rates.

Once you have the right texture, cover the soil with 2-3 inches of bark mulch. As the mulch decomposes it will add plenty of organic matter to your garden while reducing weeds and retaining moisture. Enjoy your healthy soil.

If you have any questions about your garden or landscape, visit the Master Gardener Hotline page at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/1523725. Be sure to visit the U of I Extension horticulture website http://web.extension.illinois .edu / ccdms /.

Mattoon area places over the years

Boy radiator

Boy radiator

1983: The Young Radiator plant closes due to a controversial union agreement. Local 162 UAW and the company agreed on a new three-year contract at the last minute.


File photo

Oil well

Oil well

[1945:BakersNr1Batesboreholehalfamilenorthofcurrentproductionawaitingdrillingaplugleadstotensespeculationaboutapossiblefieldexpansion[1945:BakersNr1Bates-BohrlocheinehalbeMeilenördlichdergegenwärtigenProduktiondasdaraufwarteteinenStopfenzubohrenführtzuangespanntenSpekulationenübereinemöglicheFelderweiterung


File photo

New post office

New post office

1981: The postmaster left his mark on the new post office. A remaining problem is the misalignment of mailboxes, which has forced 112 customers to re-number and leaves 65 more with mailboxes that are smaller than they are used to.


File photo

District Hospital Memorial

District Hospital Memorial

1956: Many residents recall events and personalities in the hospital’s 50 years of history when the $ 1,150,000 expansion project was completed.


File photo

Mattoon assembler

Mattoon assembler

1985: Mattoon Academy of Gymnastics and Dance State Masters Class 4 include: front row, from left, Krista Budde, Michelle Cisna, Stacey Brown; second row, Christi Horein, Erica Vaultonburg, Jennifer Daily, Lori Shafer, Dixie Usinger, Toni Best, Jessica Kessler; back row, Tina Barnes, Nikki Shaw, Kim Juergens, Pennie Lane, Elizabeth Etttlebrick, Angie Tilford, Christina Ritter, Johnna Von Behrens.


File photo

Goat log

Goat log

1983: WD “Pill” Fisher stands next to the log cabin he is building for his family. Fisher became a distributor for Kozy Log houses.


File photo

Illinois Central Railroad Depot

Illinois Central Railroad Depot

1977: The once busy waiting room rests quietly, except for an occasional passenger for one of the station’s four trains.


File photo

Downtown

Downtown

1973: Mattoon reaches the finals of the All-America Cities competition.


File photo

Downtown

Downtown

1988: Mattoon was busy in the 1950s, as this vintage photo shows. Photos are compiled in a book by Alice Larrabee, Gail Lumpkin, Jean Johnston and Marianne Thiel.


File photo

Illinois Extension leads public relations for the University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that enable families, businesses, and community leaders in Illinois to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to change and opportunity.