The Glory Has Departed


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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gardening Myths Exploded

Amy Meyer, Ichabod, Mrs. Ichabod, Brett Meyer
Overlook - Snoquamie Falls.
We talked about gardening on our trip, so it reminded me of gardening myths that keep getting repeated, often by gardening books and articles. The myths are in blue.

Clay soil is bad.
Clay is my favorite. Electrical charges move nutrients, and clay has most ability to do that. Clay can be heavy and difficult to dig at times, but that can be fixed with organic material feeding the soil creatures.

For comparison, let’s put things into a more familiar perspective. If a clay particle were the size of a marigold seed, a silt particle would be a large radish , and a sand grain would be a large garden wheelbarrow . Another way to look at soil texture is to visualize a gram (about a teaspoon’s worth) of sand, spread out one-particle deep; this would cover an area about the size of a silver dollar . If you were to spread an equal amount of clay one-particle thick, you would need a basketball court— and some of the stands surrounding it, at that. 

What difference does texture make? The size of the particles has everything to do with their surface area and the surface area of the pore spaces between individual particles. Clay has tremendous surface area compared to sand. Silt is in between. Clay has smaller pore spaces between particles, but many more pore spaces in total, so the surface area of the pore spaces in clay is greater than silt, which is greater than sand. Incidentally, organic matter, usually in the form of humus, is comprised of very minute particles that, like clay, have lots of surface area to which plant nutrients attach, thus preventing them from leaching out. Humus also holds capillary water. 

Jeff; Lowenfels, (2010-09-10). Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 442-450). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 

The best way to lighten clay is to add earthworms, compost, and mulch.

Start by rototilling the garden area, or  tilling the leaves into the soil.
The rototiller is a bad idea, because God created the soil. We don't plant bulbs upside-down. Well, some of you do, but most of us do not. Top soil is created by the creatures God designed for the upper foot of soil.

No-dig is crucial because delicate fungi and fragile soil creatures do most of the work in bringing nutrition to the plant roots. I used to think staying off the garden was to protect the roots, and that is correct. But it is even more important for the soil itself.

Everything above the soil surface will be pulled down and moved around by soil creatures until the soil has a complete meal.

When the feeding is done, the organic material on top remains as a mulch, a spongy blanket to hold water, and a larder to store food for the future.

Watering in bright sunlight will burn plant leaves and grass.
Hahahahahaha. Water is cooling, and the drops of water cannot form a burning death ray to kill plants. Nevertheless, my no-dig hero passed on this anti-logical clunker. No one is right all the time about gardening advice.

Adding fertilizer and various dry compounds to the soil
In a few words - inorganic compounds pass through the soil and pollute the water tables. There is a superficial difference, but the inorganic salts also kill and drive away soil creatures. Green up grass by mulching the grass as it is cut, by a mulching lawnmower.

Epsom Salts are promoted for improving the soil, and they can help "old" soil. I have spread some around, but once again it is the question of usable nutrition.

When we had rabbits I spread rabbit droppings on the lawn just before a rain. Regular mowing is doing the same while knocking out most weeds.

The companies have little packets of natural additions to the soil. They know how much people want to go organic. My idea is - the smaller and brighter the packaging, the bigger the robbery is.

Our own surroundings give us the best and cheapest additions to the soil. I had a rotting, wet cardboard box.That went into the compost too.

Garden insects are EEVUL
A few of them are damaging, but they are also food for other insects and birds. Most insects are beneficial. Unpopular birds--like the starlings--are great in eating pests. As one gardener observed, there are no natural enemies inside the house, so we have to kill them somehow. Outside, there are plenty of natural enemies. Therefore, do not use insecticide in the garden.

Cutworms attacked my borage plants, so I pulled out the plants and threw them away. The cutworms did not affect the nearby roses. We had grasshoppers on the roses, but no real damage. A healthy plant shakes off insect damage, but insecticide stops the processes established by Creation.

Bird Feeders Lead to Birds Starving During Vacations
I loaded up my feeders before leaving for Seattle. However, birds do not depend on us for food. They enjoy a supplement, and feeding them will make their lives easier during nesting. We enjoy them chirping at our bedroom window, which we open as often as possible.

Mulch is the best and biggest bird feeder. I add sunflower seeds on the ground and in the feeder, and I I look for other foods (berries and nuts) to add to the mix. Multiple bird baths are more important than food provided.

Weeds Are Eevul - Spray, Salt, and Suds Them Up
Keep calm and put down the spray. Ignore the homemade herbicides too.

Crab grass was brought over as a grain. It still is a grain. If you let it grow in the corner, it will feed birds. Hate it? Mow the lawn every week and cover crabgrass with newspaper in the garden. There - feel better? Weeds hate mowing and well-fed grass (mulching mower) will fill in the open places favored by weeds.

Dandelions were brought to America as herbs. They still are herbs. Birds use the downy seed parachutes in their nests. The taproots are good for the soil. They have attractive flowers. One bloomed in our backyard on December 15th.

A lot of groundcover weeds in this area have attractive flowers. They grow, bloom, seed, and fade away. Any herbicide is going to kill surrounding plants and soil creatures.

Our grandson used the car washer tool on the hose to suds up a rose plant. I thought it was cute, but the rose plant conked - Bella Vista. Gardening on a mountain is a disaster, so I did not mind. Grandchildren are always cute anyway.

Weeds like goosefoot can be eaten. Almost all weeds serve some good purpose. The big bossy ones can be grown in a wild area that other creatures enjoy.



We stayed at the inn next to the falls,
and our balcony overlooked the scenic beauty.