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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:58 am 
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I have planted two small dwarf yaupon hollies and a small evergreen euonymus this spring in my yard, which is at the base of the Sacramento Mtns. in NM. The clay ground is like cement and water doesn't drain through it well. I added a lot of compost but these plants are not doing well. The leaves are turning brown on all 3 plants, especially after 1.4" of rain last week (we rarely get rain.) Is there anything I can do to save these plants in this alkaline soil? I have apple cider vinegar, cornmeal, Garden-Ville liquid molasses and epsom salts on hand but don't know if any would help. Thanks for suggestions.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:18 am 
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How did you prepare the beds? And when you planted these plants, did make sure to completely soak the root ball and untangle the roots? If the plants were root bound they already had a strike against them.

Proper bed preparation also goes a long way to helping plants in difficult soil and desert conditions. Here is a link to the page on Bed Preparation in the Library section of the site:

http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garden/view_question/id/3029/

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:42 am 
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Thanks for the tips. I did dig a deep, wide hole and removed the hard clay in it, replacing it with compost and top soil. However, I didn't soak the root ball and untangle the roots, unfortunately, but watered the hole before planting.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:17 pm 
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Chances are that what you have there is a set of plants that are still tightly wrapped up root-wise like the day you planted them. And sometimes the dirt in pots is so caked that it's like a ceramic layer and doesn't let water in. You can take the shrubs back out, carefully, soak the root wads in water, loosen the roots and untangle them, and kind of stake them out (twigs or something will do) until the dirt is holding the roots in a good position as you refill the holes.

My next door neighbor had a local nursery come plant a weeping Yaupon and some other plants in her yard in the spring of 2009. In the fall of 2009 it looked like the tree was dying. I had spoken to this nursery guy as u9s crew worked and he was so proud of his compost tea. "It's fresh," he assured me, "not dead stuff like the bottled Garrett juice." (IMHO: Fresh is best, but the bottled stuff is a great second!) But he was so busy fussing about the compost tea that he didn't notice they did no preparation on that root ball, so when I dug up her tree out of the tiny hole they planted it in, there was the tightly wrapped root system.

I soaked her tree in some liquid fish fertilizer and Garrett juice until I could pick the roots apart, the way I saw Howard do it at a demonstration that spring. We put that tree back in the much wider (but no deeper) hole and carefully kept the roots spread out as the dirt was replaced. I'm happy to report that that re-planted tree is doing very nicely. And if your shrubs are still alive, they should improve if you do the same for them.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:40 pm 
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Thanks again. I will give your suggestions a try once we dry out a bit from these monsoon rains.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:10 pm 
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Where do you live?

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:42 pm 
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I live in Alamogordo, NM, which is at the western base of the Sacramento Mtns.
About 3 weeks ago we received over 2 inches of rain in two days, for the first time since winter. Since then, my young plants are looking better and new growth is finally developing on the euonymus. Not only do we have bad soil here, but the city water is quite hard and not good for the plants. Perhaps I should use RO filtered water instead, at least until they are established.
We moved here 10 yrs. ago from Fort Worth, where I always listened to Howard's radio show and followed his recommendations. Unfortunately, organic gardening supplies are practically non existent in this area, but I still have a few on hand.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:27 am 
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I'm not sure if any of these are feed stores or if they are open but they sound like feed stores. These are going to be your best bet for organic fertilizers.

Sander's & Danley Feed Store‎
2521 N Florida Ave
Alamogordo, NM 88310-5411
(575) 437-3820

Alamo Feed & Supply‎
2201 Eudora St
Alamogordo, NM 88310-6127
(575) 437-8703

Hughes Farm & Ranch Supply‎
7683 Highway 54 70
Tularosa, NM 88352-9698
(575) 585-2200

Don't ask for organic fertilizer. Ask for soy bean meal or alfalfa pellets (rabbit sized pellets). Apply either one of those at 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

If you have alkaline soil, then you should adjust your expectations for the success of acid loving plants. If you want to succeed in gardening, the first rule is to grow plants that are adapted to your soil and climate. In your case that might limit you to smoke bush and wiregrass. :shock: :shock:

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 3:59 pm 
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Thanks for your advice. I will look into your recommendations. I found out about a source of pine needle mulch loaded with earthworms up in the mountains that I plan to go after. I hope that will fortify my young hollies and euonymus bushes. They are doing well after recent monsoon rains.


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