Kalina Navratil
Kalina Navratil
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Asked on Jun 22, 2013

How do I make my soil in my garden better for plants?

PegPatty AKalina Navratil
+9

Answered

I have really solid soil. It has clay in it and tons of weeds (the roots, at least). I bought some peat moss, sheep fertilizer and topsoil. I need to know what's the best thing to do? I've decided not to do a garden this year (it's too late and we are getting lots of rain and hail lately) - any advice would be great! Also, I would need to know what tools to use and everything (You know - make it advice for dummies! :)
12 answers
  • Patty A
    on Jun 22, 2013

    am just gonna add to your question: what's the best way to amend clay in an already established perennial garden? I can't dig up all the plants and don't want to disturb them but my shady soil needs help.

  • Kalina Navratil
    on Jun 22, 2013

    oh, that reminds me that I need to ask for tips on digging up a wild rose bush that's roots are under my house...

  • Yair Spolter
    on Jun 22, 2013

    @Patty A and @Kalina Navratil you'll get better answers if you ask your new questions seperately, using the "Post & Ask" button on top to start a new thread. Good luck!

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 23, 2013

    Kalini, before you do anything, you should get a soil test. This is the only way to know what you really need to add to your soil. The time you spend in preparation this year will be rewarded when you are ready to plant next year. For provincial and private soil-test providers, see: http://www.canadiangardening.com/how-to/gardening-resources/testing-your-soil/a/1780

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 23, 2013

    Patty, the best thing you can do is mulch, and apply a top-dressing of compost in the spring.

  • Patty A
    on Jun 23, 2013

    thank you, Douglas and Yair. Douglas...I make my own compost and spread that on each year, but with heavy wet soil I was wondering if mulch wasn't such a good idea...I just sprinkle it lightly for looks....if you think I should apply more I will.

  • Kalina Navratil
    on Jun 27, 2013

    Thank you for the suggestions but I'm hoping to not have to pay for a soil test. Is there a way to just see what would be a generally good idea for southern alberta soil?

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 28, 2013

    Kalina, a soil test really is the place to start. You could possibly have purchased peat moss when your soil has absolutely no need for it.

  • Peg
    on Jun 28, 2013

    Sounds like both Kalina and Patty need to get some organic matter incorporated into their poor soil, not just sprinkled on top. Kalina -i s the garden in question for vegies or flowers? Doug's suggestion of a soil test is good to determine what plants will grow best in alkaline soil. If Kalina did not plant this year, then she can try to till the area well with peat moss, composted mulch, chopped leaves, ect. Then add a top layer of mulch, let it set over the winter. Patty does not want her plants disturbed. Here's an issue, if you put your plant in a hole, only loosened the immediate soil around it, it may look good for a season or two. But, when you get more root growth, those roots will come to stop because it has reached the dense clay. I've seen even so called Experienced Landscapers do this far too often. They plop plants here and there in poor soil, plants die eventually. It would be helpful Patty, to get compost, fine mulch, peat ect into the soil around the plants and anywhere in the garden that does not have something growing so not to disturb the roots. You can use a bulb planting tool that will take out chunks of soil, or and aerating tool, and then get your organic matter worked in as best as possible. Keep mulching!

  • Kalina Navratil
    on Jun 28, 2013

    Mine is for veggies. I'm slowly taking out a bunch of the flowers that are here (the lady who used to live here planted a lot of flowers and they come up every year). I've planted vegetable in the corner of our backyard the last 2 summers but the lady who helped me the first year mentioned about the clay and how thick and dense the soil is. Also - the website listed for alberta on the soil test page goes to a japanese blog about books so I couldn't really see how much the soil testing would cost

  • Patty A
    on Jun 28, 2013

    thank you , Peg. You are so right! This is why I only get a few blooms on suitable plants! When the humidity goes down I will try to dig up as much as I can and add peat, my compost and, I guess you and Douglas both say ,mulch to the clay soil . If there is any other amendment suggestions for shady, wet clay I'll gladly incorporate.

  • Peg
    on Jun 29, 2013

    Patty, you are not too far from me here in NY. The humidity this year is crazy! A good sign of healthy soil is worms! Nice big ones! I will bring some of my good soil from my yard to a client's yard and add it into their soil. I have composted piles of wood chips so I have healthy soil to spare, full of worms. They are natures tillers and composters!

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