Garden soil

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Dave Beaumont, Nov 25, 2021.

  1. Dave Beaumont

    Dave Beaumont New Member

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    I have a one year old pile of leaf mould and and a supply of Sandy subsoil. For a new garden would a mix of these be ok or should I bring in topsoil. I 'am in Cowichan Bay. Thanks.
     
  2. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    You’re in a lovely gardening climate

    we used to get asparagus from the farm up by the elementary school — so I think you can grow lots of wonderful food plants (a wide range)

    QUESTIONS
    1. Are you on flat or a slope?
    2. Is this a city lot size garden or an acreage
    3. What would you like to grow — is this a food garden or a flower garden ?
    4. Raised beds?
    5. Sun exposure and irrigation water source ? (Summer restrictions etc)

    etc

    be very careful about bringing in soil etc — there are many thread conversations about that topic

    @Margot I think has contributed to topic so might reply

    it sounds like you have an interesting project ahead - look fwd to updates
     
  3. Dave Beaumont

    Dave Beaumont New Member

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    Hi, we're on a northeast slope,partial shade. Project is a flower/landscape garden of about 15'x15' in an entry patio. I have removed the concrete and am ready to fill the 16" hole with soil.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Use mostly the soil (see discussion at link below). Otherwise "subsoil" sounds undesirable - with that term being used to refer to the level below the topsoil, which is the layer where most biological activity including plant rooth growth occurs - but if what you have is like "pit run" (unscreened sand and gravel pit excavations) you should still be able to grow a variety of plants well. Due primarily to the sandiness providing aeration.

    Microsoft Word - B&B #31 - compost overdose.doc (wsu.edu)
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
    Skipleyfarm and Georgia Strait like this.
  5. Dave Beaumont

    Dave Beaumont New Member

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    Thanks for the link Ron
     
  6. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I agree with RonB —-

    further question - are you planning on shrubs or annual flowers? (A difference might be - for example - a compact Rhodo shrub which is green leaf (generally speaking) year round and lives for decades if well cared for

    versus a seasonal bed of daffodils in spring then geranium (pelargonium) in summer etc

    One decorative plant for summer is coleus — it does not make it over winter outside in our climate tho in your exposure would do well during your summer early fall

    good thing you are close to Dinters nursery ! A well reputed place.

    as I am sure we all know these days - do check to make sure your landscaping is FireSmart and waterwise (are you on a meter, for example)

    keep us posted pls for garden solution curiosity
     
  7. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I meant to suggest - above - careful when you’re digging etc regarding your utility services that might be in your front yard - water / gas / power etc

    i am sure you’ve already considered these details
     
  8. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Just for interest's sake, I've noticed that advice for planting rhodos is changing - maybe not in all circumstances - but generally. Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach has recently opened a new species rhododendron garden: Greig Rhododendron Species Garden | Milner Gardens | Vancouver Island University | Canada

    From the North Island Rhododendron Society December 2017 newsletter comes this description of how they were planted.
    "The grounds of the Species Garden were prepared last year with a deep layer of sand, which raised the planting site. A shallow depression was made for the rhodo. Once in place, we back filled with a wheelbarrow load of sand, a scattering of compost (very little should be used), and applied bark mulch/chipped material liberally over top. So, basically the rhodo sits up above the path level, almost like a raised bed, which provides good drainage. The area is well supplied with water through an overhead sprinkler system."
    http://www.nirsrhodos.ca/NIRS Newsletters/2017/NIRS Dec 17.pdf

    Compare that to advice from other sources that suggest “the ideal soil mix is 50% organic matter and 50% slightly sandy topsoil.”
     
  9. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    Rhodos do well even in a pure sandy soil, without any organic amendments.
     
  10. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Apparently the word is getting around. They do benefit from a good mulch however for all the usual reasons.
     
  11. Dave Beaumont

    Dave Beaumont New Member

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    I appreciate all your comments, thanks. Considering no one yelled stop!! I proceeded to use the sandy till subsoil. Having removed the century old 4" concrete and stones I mixed it with about 20% heavy clay soil and 30% leaf mould (which obviously will reduce to a fraction of that). It will then be remixed by fork in the spring.
    Interesting comments about the Rhodos , but I won't be planting any as already have 45. Will use low sedges , grasses , ferns and moss. Any complementary flowers will have to be deerproof.
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    This is likely to have been a mistake - presumably the clay is going to counteract the aeration produced by the sand (a little clay goes a long way plus the sandy subsoil may already have some clay in it) and the high percentage of organic material you included may duplicate conditions warned against in the Washington State University fact sheet I linked to.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021

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