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Sad garden soil

Posted by a.shau 8b (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 14, 14 at 1:21

To my dismay, I found out today that even though I'm drenching my backyard, the water doesn't penetrate more than a thin layer of the surface soil! I recently replanted some things there and used the existing garden soil thoroughly (hopefully) mixed with some miracle gro garden soil. Now even after I thoroughly water, if i pull away some of the top layer of the soil I find it's completely dry underneath - now wonder my poor plants are dying!

What did I do wrong? And, if all the water isn't going INTO the soil, where is it going?! help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Sad garden soil

What kind of soil do you have in that San Francisco back yard, sand or clay? How much organic matter is in that soil? Did you check drainage and moisture retention before planting? What kind of life is in that soil?
Putting something called "garden soil" into an area, especially if mixed into the present poor soil, will do little unless a very large amount is mixed in. If that "garden soil" was formulated according to the commonly accepted soil standards it was about 95 percent mineral and 5 percent organic matter and you already have a very large amount of the mineral portion of soil and really need quite large amounts of organic matter.
Perhaps these simple soil tests can be of some help in getting that soil into a growing media.
1) Soil test for organic matter. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. For example, a good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains’ too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.

Also consider a good reliable soil test for soil pH and major nutrients. While your University of California does not soil test anymore the University of Connecticut will test out of state soils for a very nominal fee.

Here is a link that might be useful: UCONN soil testing


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RE: Sad garden soil

"even though I'm drenching my backyard, the water doesn't penetrate more than a thin layer of the surface soil! "

How are you "drenching" it? What sort of applicator and how long does the water run?

Here's a fast cure for hydrophobic (resists getting wet) soil. Mix a couple teaspoons of cheap baby shampoo or ordinary (no lotion, no bactericidal) dishwashing liquid into a gallon of water in a CLEAN (new or well-rinsed) garden sprayer.

Thoroughly and evenly spray the soil, then do a deep, slow watering with a soaker hose. The soap is a surfactant that will allow the water top penetrate further.


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RE: Sad garden soil

Duplicate

This post was edited by lazygardens on Sun, Jun 15, 14 at 19:02


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RE: Sad garden soil

You didn't say how you're watering. Is it with a hand held hose?

I've had that same dismal discovery. It's amazing how one can spray and spray with the hose, even without any real runoff, and there's no appreciable results two inches down. In my case, I went to slow drip and a timer, reserving the hose for keeping seeds on or near the surface damp. It works here in the high heat, but it still surprises me about just how long it takes to drip deeply.


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RE: Sad garden soil

I have soil like that in san Francisco, but we are not zone 8b, we are zone 10, but 8b is like east bay. It's compacted sand, and you need compost and a lot of it, I mean like tons of it, and it takes a long time to fix this. You start by making compost or buying something in bag or what ever, then you remove a bit of the soil on top that is very hard, then mix in your compost into the soil as deep as the plant roots. You must keep adding more compost again and again, dig it again and again until the water starts to go in properly, you will know when it fixed.


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RE: Sad garden soil

Hi all, sorry I've been travelling. Thank you so much for your comments! I am watering with a hose that has a sprayer attached. There's only one section where I've put this new combo of soil, the rest of the yard has the soil that was originally there, and I THINK it's ok, although I didn't scrape under those sections yet. I've transplanted plants to other areas before and those plants seem to do fine. I will definitely check the soil when I get back and use the tips you guys provided to check on what the original soil was like.

I'm also wondering if the miracle gro garden soil is good and helpful, or if it's the stuff that causing the problem...


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 15, 14 at 12:51

My guess is that you are not laying down anywhere near as much water as you think you are. Soil, even sandy soil, holds a lot more water than people give it credit for. If you have bone dry soil, it is going to take some time to wet it sufficiently. Once you get some moisture in there retaining that moisture level will be easier.


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RE: Sad garden soil

•Posted by nil13 z21) on
Sun, Jun 15, 14 at 12:51
"My guess is that you are not laying down anywhere near as much water as you think you are. Soil, even sandy soil, holds a lot more water than people give it credit for. If you have bone dry soil, it is going to take some time to wet it sufficiently. Once you get some moisture in there retaining that moisture level will be easier."

You can take that to the bank. I allways thought I was soaking soil deep until I built a container 5'x5'x3'deep. Not one drop of water can escape but instead it goes into a 20 gallon reservior underneath the 3' of soil. It's amazing how much water can be applied to the surface before any collects in the reserve. The reserve has a hose bib in the bottom where I pump the water (lecheat actualy) into a container so I know how much was in reserve.


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RE: Sad garden soil

But, that soil that is sand that is compacted just wastes water. The water sits on the top and evaporates. That is why you remove the top layer of soil, as that is what is blocking the water.


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 15, 14 at 16:56

Remove top layer of sandy soil? In all my years in this business I have never heard anyone recommend that. Mulch to prevent evaporation sure, but never removal. Who told you that and what did they offer as evidence?


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RE: Sad garden soil

" I am watering with a hose that has a sprayer attached."

Unless you stand there for several hours a day, carefully waving the sprayer back and forth, you are applying very little water.

Get a "soaker" hose, lay it out and run it for a couple of hours.


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RE: Sad garden soil

Research over many years has shown that a lawn needs about 1 inch of water per week, depending on the weather. How long it takes for that to happen depends on the delivery system and it can take 2 hours of sprinkling to put that out there. 15 or 20 minutes will not do it.
Sometimes sandy soils can become hydrophobic, water repelling, and any water applied initially will not soak in especially if that sandy soil does not have adequate amounts of organic matter. So, time of application and volume of water are important and one way to tell how much you are delivering is to place straight sided cans in various areas and sprinkle until 1 inch of water is collected and record that time.
I do know that here the time varies depending on what other uses the well pump needs to satisfy. It may, or may not be the same with a municipal water system.


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RE: Sad garden soil

Naturally, if you are hiring some "company" to "fix" your problem, they will not remove the top layer of soil. It will cost them too much in labor and where will the put that soil? They want to just come and put down some cheap soil on top of your soil and maybe lay down some sod and proclaim your problem fixed, and collect a big fee. Within two years you will be right back to the same problem.

If you do it yourself and remove the top layer, why because that is what has is blocking the water. If you dump compost on top of that layer, but I only mean less then 1/4 inch, and you have to dig the compost in and it has to be quality compost. And it will need constant touch up, so why hire somebody, unless you are prepared to do it again and again. Hire them to come back and add more compost. Just a stupid waste of money.


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RE: Sad garden soil

I don't know how you know that the OP has a layer of compacted sand on top of her soil...??

And if a soil is not allowing water to penetrate, I doubt it is pure sand to begin with.

Our mantra here is usually that native soil should be kept and improved by amending and mulching.

In any case...totally agree with the posters saying it takes more water than you think. To water a 10x10 ft area, let's say with 1.2" of water (0.1 ft.) takes 10 cubic feet of water, or 75 gallons. Think about how long it would take to fill a 55 gal drum with that sprayer. :-]


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RE: Sad garden soil

how about she actually start by double digging her soil.. while incorporating a lot of compost ....and create a bed of usable soil ...

rather than planting.. and then worrying about the soil ...

and OP ... you are adding potting MEDIA to mother earth.. that equation doesnt add up.. in my world ... especially if you are simply spreading it on top ...

the MEDIA is not your problem.. its how you are trying to use it ...

see link for double digging .. including a youtube.. which i didnt watch ...

as a gardener.. there is never any time frame ... if you take and perfect one small bed now.. it will be ready for fall planting ... in fall do more.. for spring planting etc ... [fall planting.. because in many places.. july/august are not prime planting times.. especially for young veg .... but i dont know CA gardening]

it doesnt always work.. just planting things and hoping for the best.. if you run into a soil.. which has never been gardened ... its rather rare ... but not uncommon in an urban setting ...

99% of a garden.. is the soil ... perfect it ... and you will be near bulletproof.. once you get rolling [you will also have to learn how to water ... and that usually has nothing to do with a hose end sprayer]

good luck

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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RE: Sad garden soil

A year ago we moved into a house we had built on a lot that was amazingly set up for my gardening. I knew the soil was poor by how bad the grass was that was on the lot. Last summer I gardened in the raised beds I had moved(along with the soil and my compost piles), and in a few areas I amended with compost. What I was waiting for was the bagged leaves that folks in the surrounding neighborhoods put out on the street. Once they started, I started shredding, covering the areas where I was wanting to lay out beds with six or more inches of ground leaves. Even though the leaves were not yet completely broken down, I started digging the leaves into the soil underneath in the places I wanted to plant. I had even sprinkled a very thin layer of shredded leaves onto lawn areas. I know the leaves not yet broken down make the plants I'm growing this year need more fertilizer, compost, etc., this year, but by next year and all the following years it will be amazing. The number of worms I'm seeing in my soil all over the yard is off the charts. If I cover everything in the yard with more shredded leaves this fall and winter, it will even be better.


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RE: Sad garden soil

There is simply no good reason, short of a poison (contamination) of some kind, to remove soil from ones garden or yard.


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 11:16

Double digging? That is completely unnecessary. It would be a pretty bad idea for a perennial garden as settling would cause some problems down the road.


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 12:00

This thread has been fascinating due to the variety of information presented, some correct and some not so correct. Because of that I feel the need to post this link to Dr. Chalker-Scott's garden myths page. (All the links on that page link to PDFs)

Here is a link that might be useful: Horticultural Myths


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by slowjane Los Angeles USDA 10- (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 14:46

wow lots of good info on there nil13! thanks for posting. just read an article saying that the milk i sprayed on my zucchini last night is not just snake oil ...;) which myths were you looking to point us to in this thread though?
the linked article below might be relevant...

Here is a link that might be useful: sand myths


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 20:12

It would be hard to point to any one myth, slowjane. Little bits from different ones would seem to be appropriate. I just think it is a valuable resource that provides a lot of good information.


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 20:49

"Naturally, if you are hiring some "company" to "fix" your problem, they will not remove the top layer of soil. It will cost them too much in labor and where will the put that soil? They want to just come and put down some cheap soil on top of your soil and maybe lay down some sod and proclaim your problem fixed, and collect a big fee. Within two years you will be right back to the same problem."

It sounds like someone has had a bad experience with a landscaper. A good landscape company will not remove the top layer of soil because unless the site is a brownfield it is completely unnecessary. They will only put down some 70:30 (that's 70% mineral soil: 30% organic matter by volume which is an optimal ratio) if fill is needed. They will test your soil and if organic matter (OM) is needed for the specified planting plan they will work humus into the native soil to bring the OM fraction to the proper level. If the planting is to be a perennial planting they will lay down a nice thick layer of mulch. If the planting is to be sod, then other steps would be taken. There is a large body of research concerning turf installation. Amendments like calcined clay can be used to moderate drainage in both clay and sandy soils. Compaction after amending will create a stable field for the sod. On turf installations, topdressing will be necessary to replenish the OM fraction. This can easily be done by a homeowner. A good landscape company will know about all of this and keep up on the current research. Dead plants and unhappy customers aren't good for business.

"If you do it yourself and remove the top layer, why because that is what has is blocking the water. If you dump compost on top of that layer, but I only mean less then 1/4 inch, and you have to dig the compost in and it has to be quality compost. And it will need constant touch up, so why hire somebody, unless you are prepared to do it again and again. Hire them to come back and add more compost. Just a stupid waste of money."

Removing the top layer is a waste. Dumping a 1/4" of compost on the top will do very little to change the amount of OM in the soil. The amount of OM that is required is dependent upon how much is already there. If you have 1% OM by weight (3% by volume) you are going to need a lot of OM incorporated initially. If you have 10% or more by weight (30% by volume) you won't need to amend with OM at all initially. If you are installing turf, you will want to topdress periodically with compost to maintain a proper level. If it is a perennial bed you can replenish the OM by the decomposition of mulch which will also need replenishing. Both tasks can be done by a homeowner or if they would rather sip iced tea on the patio by a landscaper. (Not sure why paying someoneelse to do the dirty work is a waste of money)

Now with all that said, the easiest course of action is to plant perennials that are happy with the native soil the way it is and just mulch it. However, not everyone is willing to accept the existing conditions.


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RE: Sad garden soil

Wow, I'm psyched that my question has generated so much discussion! To clarify, I did not spread the media on top of the soil, but mixed it in 50/50 with the existing soil in the bed.

I have to admit, I don't know for a fact if the water hadn't been soaking through the original soil this whole time (the past 1 year) but the fact that I had plants growing nicely and vigorously never made me suspect that anything was wrong. It was only when I transplanted a few plants back in may, and noticed that my chrysanthemum which I moved was not perking up after the move despite lots of "watering". This chrysanthemum plant was originally in a pot and several months back I had just put it in the yard and it went from being 1 ft tall to nearly 3 ft tall and starting to bloom many flowers. Because I knew it had been happy previously, I finally thought to scrape beneath the top later of soil and found out that non of the water was penetrating that top later.

So just to reiterate, the first time when I planted the mum, I did not amend the soil, and had maybe just added some compost to the area once in the last several months. But this last time when I moved it, I had mixed a bunch of original soil with the "garden soil", then put it back in the hole and also covered it with the new mix.

I've been away from home this whole time so when I go back on Monday I'll check out the soil in the rest of the yard (where I did not put this mix) and see how the original soil reacts to water. Thanks everyone for the tips and hopefully the discussion can continue. P.S. I agree, I really enjoy the link to Linda Chalker-Scott's myth busts!


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by slowjane Los Angeles USDA 10- (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 17:13

I will say that my native soil is extremely hydrophobic when dry - like water beads up on it! I turn the hose on to a drip and let it run for hours to soak it - once it's dampish it will hold water again. Another trick I've been using is to use a 32 oz yogurt container and poke a few holes in the bottom with a push pin and fill it up at the base of my plant - then refill it several times - sort of a diy gravity fed drip system that I can use to water individual plants (instead of the whole yard which just brings up weeds ;)
Also saving water is a priority here for us since we are in a drought.

This method makes sure that your soil gets slowly throughly soaked - not leaving dry spots. I also use this in the veggie garden.


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RE: Sad garden soil

I said remove the top layer and then add a lot of compost and dig it in. You are dreaming up what I said. Or not even reading carefully. The top layer of sand is the water blocking layer. What is so terrible about removing a tiny bit of top layer. What is wrong with you people? I personally have removed even more then just the top layer. I have removed quite a bit of sand to make room for a lot of compost. My soil is excellent. The water drains right in without any problem. Just removing the 1/4 inch is a very conservative idea. If you just put the compost on top, the water will still be blocked by the top layer.


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 22, 14 at 12:28

Tropical, I think you are thinking about crust forming soils. The best way to deal with structural crust is mulching.


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RE: Sad garden soil

Alright - so I came back today and checked my soil. I'm sorry to report that it seems like my soil has become completely hydroponic somehow. The soil is completely dry underneath the top, like powder. When I water it the water just glides over the soil unless I mix the water in and work it around. Of course, with plants in there this is really hard to do.

I am guessing that the soil just started drying out over the past several months as we lacked rain going into summer and whatever watering I was doing - unbeknownst to me - wasn't going very deep.

Does this sound plausible? And what should I do about this now? Would it be bad to add vermiculite and perlite to the soil? Should I just stick to organic matter and lots of mulch?

Thanks everyone!


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RE: Sad garden soil

oops - i mean hydrophobic, not hydroponic!


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by slowjane Los Angeles USDA 10- (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 24, 14 at 13:26

Yup that's how my soil is when it's dry. And I have pretty good sandy loam soil.

First thing is to run your hose on just the slightest drip for several hours - or take a container and poke holes in it (like my 32 oz yogurt container with pushpin holes) and fill it up where you are trying to water - then keep refilling it over a day.

Also, you should scroll back up to kimmsr's reply (2nd post) and do those soil tests, particularly 1,2 and 3. You may or may not need to add stuff to it - find out what its composition is first.

As my friend's landscaper dad used to say, "Gotta go water the dirt!" Even good soil can be hydrophobic when dry. Also, "powdery" is better than rock hard i.e. it's not solid clay.

It also depends what you're trying to plant by the way - it doesn't make sense to start adding bags of stuff from the store before you have done those 3 soil tests and also figured out what conditions your plants need. Let us know what you find out!


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RE: Sad garden soil

Hi all,

Ok here are the results of the tests I was able to do.
1. The jar test - it looks like there are only 3 components to my soil. I don't know what the bottom two layers are, but the top one is definitely organic material. The very bottom layer, which looks like it has particles of slightly varying color, looks like it has almost more than twice the amount than the layer right above it, which is very uniform in color.

2. I guess I don't have enough OM because it drains pretty quickly - definitely under 2 hrs.

3. When the soil is damp it doesn't really stay in a ball when I squeeze it, it sort of just falls apart (like a really dry snowball) but when I wet it much more, I can then make a ball, which does fall apart when I poke it. Of course, when I wet it even more it becomes what seems to be a mushy mess which makes me think there is some clay in there.

I've started "watering the dirt" and after lots of watering and turning of the soil (empty beds) the soil does seem to absorb the water. There are also areas where the soil underneath the top layer seems a lot less hydrophobic than in other areas (basically the areas where there is less direct sun).

Finally, on Monday I pulled out the chrysanthemum bush, gave the rootball a thorough soak and then replanted it in a watered-soil area, and pleased to say that by morning its leaves - formerly droopy and sad for the last 1.5 months - were now perky and much happier looking. Looks like at the very least I need to get mulch!

However I'm paranoid about mulching without also adding compost within the soil, as I have been reading that improper mulching is also a cause of hydrophobic soil.

Thoughts anyone?


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RE: Sad garden soil

I am not sure what is meant by "improper mulching" but mulching any soil has these benefits.
1. Aids in soil moisture retention.
2. Aids in suppressing unwanted plant growth.
3. Aids in adding organic matter to soil.
4. Aids in keeping soil cooler.
Number 4 works with number 1 because high soil temperatures cause evaporation.


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RE: Sad garden soil

Regarding improper mulching, I've been reading that using certain types of material for mulch, or mulch that hasn't been composted properly or enough releases oils into the soil as it breaks down, coating the soil particles with wax and thus making it hydrophobic. But having compost in the soil aids against this because the microbes in compost break down that coating. I've also read that using mulch with too many "fines" can cause some harm to the soil.

Most of the sources have been reading interviews/articles by Dr. Linda Chalker Scott. I learned about one cause of hydrophobia from here: http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/factsheets/Gardening-Tips-Books-Techniques-and-Tools/Adding-Organic-Matter-to-Soil/2923 (and have since checked other sources).

So to reiterate, I am not against mulching at all and definitely know about the benefits of it now, but as a new gardener I just want to make sure that I am not doing it incorrectly.

This post was edited by a.shau on Thu, Jun 26, 14 at 19:48


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RE: Sad garden soil

  • Posted by slowjane LA CA USDA10-Sunset (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 2, 14 at 12:59

That Australian video seems weird to me - people use straw all the time as mulch - the materials they're using might be specific to that part of the world and they might have their own specific problems.

Maybe check out the FAQ if you haven't.

My suggestion based on everything you've said (if you don't mind buying your mulch) is look at the stuff labeled "soil amendment" - I bought a bag of organic soil amendment that was partially composted and said could be used for mulch. Nice thing about this is that it will be adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil, more quickly than bark or wood chips I'm pretty sure. You might have to refresh it more often but might be at least a place to start. Anything is better than nothing really.

LA county has a free mulch program - you could see if your area does also. It's composted materials from the Green Bins. I found a few bits of plastic in mine one time but hey it's free and plentiful.


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RE: Sad garden soil

You can't just dig up your plants and soak them and put them back, this will stress them and cause transplant shock, but do nothing to help them long term. Why are resisting the idea of adding compost? It is like giving a man a shot of whiskey, but not setting his broken leg.


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RE: Sad garden soil

i have had the same problem.
you can use a surfactant /wetting agent, like Yucca extract.
(similar to soap), and instead of mulch, i would use a good quality compost, then maybe mulch on top of that.

the compost will have organic acids which will help a LOT.

_ humic and/or fulvic acids -
If you have the $ (fulvic can be costly, but you dont need as much, and can put it just on the plants, not the whole area)
a little fulvic goes a LONG way.

Kelpforless has both Fulvic and Yucca
i have used them before and have good prices and quality.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-dry-oz-Fulvic-Acid-Organic-75-Pure-FULVIC-Water-Soluble-FREE-SHIPPING-in-USA-/350903589413?pt=Fertilizer_Soil_Amendments&hash=item51b37bda25

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This study details the after effects of a fire that burned through the San Bernadino National Forest in 2003. After wild fires, forest soils are strongly hydrophobic, in most cases making regeneration less than successful. This study details the remediation practices that were utilized to overcome post-fire hydrophicity.
http://andersonshumates.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Remediation-of-Fire-Induced-Hydrophicity.pdf

Studies like this illustrate the fact that applications of a granular humic substance with a humate base have the ability to resolve hydrophobicity issues in short order.
http://andersonshumates.com/loving-or-phobic-humics/

fulvic and humic acids also help nutrients pass through the cell membrane of roots

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-dry-oz-Fulvic-Acid-Organic-75-Pure-FULVIC-Water-Soluble-FREE-SHIPPING-in-USA-/350903589413?pt=Fertilizer_Soil_Amendments&hash=item51b37bda25


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RE: Sad garden soil

Hey all - thanks so much for your help & suggestions! ALL of my plants are doing so much better now, especially now that I am paying more attention to them. I'm not necessarily watering everyone too much (hello - drought!) but I did definitely just go ahead and put mulch everywhere.

My salvia, is even starting to bloom again and the chrysanthemum continues to look perky and healthy.

For anyone still concerned, I am not anti-mulching and composting, in fact I love both and do have a lot of compost in my beds, I just want to make sure I'm doing it correctly.

The good news is that now with summer upon San Francisco, the temps remain fairly cool and the daily fog helps to slow down the drying of the soil. I never thought I'd be happy to live in an neighborhood that gets touched by the fog as often as we do!


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RE: Sad garden soil

Those plants look great.


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RE: Sad garden soil

If you live in San Francisco, so do I and you are zone 10, the east bay is zone 8b, I think. Mint does very well, and probably does not even need water. Good to see nice plants.
This means I am right about the top layer of soil getting hard, because it's fine compacted sand. If you really don't want to remove the top layer, just mix it all up and chop all the compost into the soil, instead of just putting it on top, as the water can still be blocked by compacted sand. I have this soil in my garden and have been battling it for over 20 years.

This post was edited by tropical_thought on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 20:54


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