Garbage in, Garden Out, The Recycling Gardener, Planting a Large Acreage
Aquariums need more CO2 for good plant growth
Building Your Soil from the Ground Up
Everything you can recycle into your soils ought to be recycled into your soils to the extent that is practical.
We love soups, and make soups, chicken soup is on as I write. When I have excess soup, I dig a hole and bury it if it has meats in it (otherwise cats or other animals will dig it up)
I have seen locations where houses are placed where nearly of absolutely no ornamental plants will grow without radically altering the soils conditions.
One location actually had the ground scrapped down to the fractured rock base. To grow grass was a major effort involving hauling in more than a foot of soils to cover the rock. I would suggest container gardens for those areas, but, assuming you actually have some kind of dirt, first look and see what the problem is. Either the ground will have too much clay or too much sand.
Ideal soils would be, say, one third clay, sand, and organic materials, but the organics break down and need to be replaced.
Remove some topsoil, if you can, especially if you are going to landscape afterward. Then find in your city where they dump their solid sewage waste, arrange for several inches of it to be dumped on your yard. Mix this into the soils you scrapped off, and, if it is excessively sandy, add clays to the soil. You may be able to find an industrial source, say, drilling clay or dolomite, which can be mixed in quite easily.
Thing about what resources you have in your yard, or home, or city. There are more than you think.
Find a source of organic material. Ask the local tree trimmers to dump their ground mulch on the yard until it is about a foot deep. Replace topsoil if you have too much rock or sand. This will look dry until after the next rainy period then be the most impressive soils in the neighborhood. But keep the organics going into the soil. Keep your carbon, plants need it, there isn't much in the atmosphere.
Frankly, Scarlet, I don't... care what you have heard, there isn't sufficient carbon in the air for most plants to thrive as evidenced by commercial greenhouses who add it so their plants can grow faster, or, like me, aquarium people who add it so their plants can grow better.
See the photos, these are my tanks. I conserve as much carbon as I can in the water to grow the plants. That's what every sugar, starch and fiber of every plant is made from.
If the soil has too much clay, much more common, order a few tons of sand from the local builders supply knowing you will get some weeds with the sand, but this will significantly improve your soils. Add gypsum to help break it up and add calcium to the clay. But add organics and work them in.
If you happen to live by the ocean and have access to a truck, bring home a few tons of seaweed, wash off the salts, then bury this under the soil. Seaweed had long chain polysaccharides, slimy mucus like fibers that will hold water as well as a wealth of minerals your plants can use. Eating these is good for you also as they help the joints stay limber.
Here is a place that adding worms to the yard will be a big held in distributing those organics and building the soils by introducing other organisms, and processing the plants as they break down.
Remember, there are two major classifications of worms. The larger “night crawlers” are the worms that come to the surface when it is cool and wet to bring plant materials down into the soil, and the smaller red worms which process that and take it deeper into the soil.
A friend was going to tear out a patio and asked me to help. He was renting a pneumatic hammer and wanted to then transport the broken cement out to the sidewalk, load it into a trailer, haul this to the dump, then unload it at the dump, then return for load after load.
I gave him an alternative.
He happened to live on a canyon and had the ability to expand his yard. We estimated the amount we would have, went out and cut a 20 degree slope at the bottom of a small drop, but back toward the hill.
This twenty degrees was just estimated, not measured.
Then we broke the cement into pieces we two grown men could lift into the wheelbarrow and took them out to the edge dumping them unceremoniously over the edge.
At the bottom I began to arrange them linearly along that cut, adjusting it where needed to accommodate the size of several pieces.
After course one was laid, I made another course being careful not to overlay to edges or gaps between blocks and also to step the second block an inch or so back from the first block’s edge to continue the slope backward into the hill. We needed that extra pitch because of the shape of the hill. The original twenty degree slope was sufficient slope to hold this wall.
We continued this up until nearly at the top and level with the surrounding hill. It was only about 8 feet at the highest point.
We backfilled this with debris from our work and other yards waste and soil as we went.
When we were finished we made a few steps from the remaining cement pieces so he could enter the lower yard, the canyon area.
We watered this down well to settle the blocks and soil, and to wash a little soil between the blocks.
A week or so later we capped the area with some topsoil and poked succulents into the gaps between the blocks. It served as a quite spot in his garden that he could get away from the noise of a busy home, his favorite spot in a really beautiful yard.
This yard, but not my wall, was featured in San Diego Home & Garden Magazine.
He was really good at gardening.
So, we stopped several tons of material from going to the dump, we saved wear and tear on his car and our backs, and created a great spot in the yard.
I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I had helped my father build many walls like this when I was young in our Mission Hills home. This is recycling of concrete at its finest.
These walls are still in place providing a yard to a formerly baron back canyon area and terraces to order.
Fingers for Cutworms?
I was watering today when I noticed my Spearmint was being devastated by cut worms of you will, or moth larvae. The little guys ate more mint in two days that I have in a month. They devastated the large galvanized washing bucket is use to grow my Spearmint.
I was out of Bacillus thuringesis and so simply went up and down the stems with my fingers pinching the stem and leaves.
Sure it is a little messy, but total time to kill the bugs was about 2 minutes, less time that it would have taken to get the sprayer out and load it with the bacteria anyway.
Had I a much larger area to control, I certainly would have reverted to that method, but this was a small localized infestation and this was very fast indeed.
Remember, I was watering and so had a hose with a nozzle waiting to rinse off my hands once the grizzly and morbid task was done.
I told you this would be a hands-on type of gardening.
Grasshoppers? Take a jar and add a 10:1 mixture of water and molasses. They smell the sweet molasses and dive in to get a meal, then simply drown. Then don’t waste this nutrient source, pour this into mulch or into the soils be a plant you really like then simply bury it.
The bugs provide a little nitrogen to the soils, but the entire mixture feeds the organisms in the soils to keep it alive and healthy. Their shells break down very slowly and feed bacteria and fungi that helps the soil. Don’t expect great things from a few bug carcasses but every little bit helps.