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A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.
Segal's Law

Instant Forest

Blank canvas waiting for your creativity

Dirt and Soil

Making Happy Roots

This is the start.

What is dirt

Soil Physics

Soil Chemistry

Drainage

Air

Roots need air. Dirt is about 70% stuff and 30% air. When you water, some that air space is taken by water.

Compaction

If you keep walking the same route, over and over, you get a path. You get a line of compacted soil. Plants have a harder time pushing their roots through. Less air for the roots that do go through.

Cars put more pressure on the ground. Happens faster.

If the soil is wet, the soil particles are lubricated by a film of water. Easier to compact. Farmers try to keep equipment off the fields until it reaches a certain amount of dry.

Solutions

As I think up or discover more solutions, I'll put them here. Please: Tell my your ideas.

Pitchers Mound

The card on the tree says it wants rich deep soil. I've got 3 inches of black dirt on solid clay. What do I do?

There are a couple of solutions to this, and you aren't going to like any of them.

Bog gardens.

This may eventually be pulled out of here, and put in it's own Idea.

There are some cool things that only grow in very wet conditions. One example is coyote willow, which you normally find on islands in the river. (It's other common name is sandbar willow) It has a beautiful gracefull leave on a slender stem. I've called it 'Alberta Bamboo' as it's the closest thing we've got.

But: It wants to be in reach of the water table.

So here's your trick: Start by pretending you are making a pond. The difference is that the entire pond, including the edge, is under ground. This creates an underground water table with some drier stuff on top.

I'm working in the dark on this. Experiment.

Alkaline soil

Some of our subsoils are really alkaline, with a pH of over 9.0. Worse, some of the alkalinity is from calcium carbonate rock, (sandstone, limestone) and so it takes an unreasonable amount of acidification to get it down to normal.

Two tests:

Vinegar test: Put some dirt in a small jar. Pour vinegar on it and shake. There will be some bubbles from spaces in the dirt, but if it keeps bubbling, you have a large surplus of carbonates in the soil. You need to replace the soil, or plant only alkaline tolerant plants.

You passed the first test.

pH test: Get a soil test kit from your local garden centre. Follow directions -- usually fill a bottle with dirt, add water, shake, wait, shake, put a test strip in, and match colour. If you are even partially colour blind this doesn't work.

Most trees do best in a soil with a pH of under 7. Many of them tolerate 7.5 but don't do really well. The most common symptom is chlorosis (yellow leaves), from alkaline induced iron deficiency.

Add 1 pound of pelleted sulfur per square yard. Rake in. Sulfur is eaten by a bacteria and converted into sulfuric acid. It takes about 3 months to get started, and a treatment is good for a few years. Stay on top of it though: Test after 3 months. A pound will usually bring the pH down 1 unit, which is all we need here.

You will need to repeat every few years.


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Want to talk right now? Talk to me: (8 am to 8 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.