Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Feel the Earth by KCB

KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family.

What a great day---what am I doing inside writing on such a day as this? Waiting for the consignment company to carry away some furniture I would like to sell. Yes—I’m leaving behind the rich carved mahogany of yesterday for the crisp clean lines of today……..

We’ve planned, walked our property and now to truly prepare. We are still in the preparation phase. Let us review:

Plan before you plant-done
Prepare before you plant
Know your property- almost there
know yourself
Right Plant, Right Place

I am going to by-pass ‘Know your soil’ and go directly to know yourself.

KNOW YOURSELF : A week or so ago I wrote, “Warming up before gardening is just as important as warming up before a vigorous workout. After warming up, stretching exercises for the major muscle groups that will be involved in performing the task can reduce the risk of injury.” Return to the posting, No 5K for Me! to review some of the stretches and suggestions to get yourself physically ready.

Other ways to ‘know’ yourself is to make sure you have all the proper tools and clothing. Knee pads are more practical than a kneeling pad, either is better than kneeling without cushioning. Wear clothes that wick away moisture to keep you cool and dry. Sunscreen and insect repellant are musts. There is a lot to be said about donning straw hats. Visions of ladies in pastel colored floral smocks, large straw hat, basket over the arm merrily pruning roses….or gentlemen farmers, sitting on a tractor, hat made of straw, and a sprig to chew upon…. The brim of such hats will shield the eyes and neck while the weave allows for air to pass thru. For me, I feel naked without a baseball cap.

To ‘know’ yourself is to ‘no’ yourself. Forgive me; I shake my head as I write this sad but appropriate pun. Say ‘no’ when you begin to feel stressed in any way. So many times our bodies begin to fatigue before our heart is ready. One last weed, one more prune….they’ll wait. The garden gnomes will not take away all your fun. Resist, re-hydrate, relax, rejuvenate. Begin again if you must.

Ah—for the least followed gardening advice of them all:

KNOW YOUR SOIL: I’m not sure about you; the smell of soil is one of my favorite scents. Rich, loamy soil………aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! How do you get to know your soil? ‘Soil, this is KCB, KCB, this is soil’. This is not to say I do not talk to the dirt but the best way to get to know your soil is to test it. ‘Soil, which soil contains the finest particles?’ (Answer below)

o pH = soil acidity or alkalinity
7 is Neutral
< = Acid (“sour”) Add lime to decrease (increase pH) Wood Ash > = Alkaline (“sweet”)
Add aluminum sulfate (decrease pH)
o Levels of Nutrients (only 3 are listed
Nitrogen (N) 1st # on plant food/fertilizer bag
Promotes foliage over-all growth in lushness and color
Phosphorus (P) 2nd # on plant food/fertilizer
Promotes flowering (blooms) & Fruit development
Promotes strong roots
Potassium (K) 3rd #
Promotes over-all health, strength and size of plant

There are many other nutrients and components of soil, so much more to say, so little interest…….

Why good soil? A good loam offers stability and support for 2 things. Soil with all the essential nutrients (16 per my hort studies) enables the plant to take in all that they need.

Therefore, my new mantra for 2008 is

‘Feed your soil and your soil will feed your plant’.

Speak with the staff at your favorite family run nursery, they even have do-it yourself soil test kits for sale. Your County Cooperative Extension is also a valuable tool. They may be contacted @ http://www.umext.maine.edu/counties/county.htm

Next time Right Plant, Right Place

See you then…………. Answer: Clay

KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
April 22, 2008

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