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The Key To Successful Gardening is Excellent Bed Preparation
FIRST THE DON’TS:
Don’t remove native soil unless drainage problems are caused by the raised beds. Existing native soil is an important part of the bed preparation mix.
Don’t use peat moss, pine bark or washed concrete sand. These products are problematic, especially when compared to the natural organic choices.
Don’t till wet soil. Tilling, forking or digging holes in wet soil does damage by squeezing the soil particles together, causing glazing and eliminating the air spaces needed for healthy soil life.
Don’t spray toxic herbicides. Spraying toxic herbicides anytime is a bad idea, but in the winter, it’s really stupid because it can’t kill dormant grasses and weeds.
NOW THE DO’S:
Successful Gardening is Dependent on Excellent Bed Preparation
Clay soils, sandy soils and all soils in between are prepared the same way. First, scrape away any existing weeds and grass and toss that material into the compost pile or replant the sod elsewhere. Always remove the grass before any tilling is done. Tilling first drives the reproductive part of the grasses and broadleafs down in the ground to be a weed problem forever. Organic herbicides (not the toxic stuff like Roundup) can be used in the summer, but physical removal is still better.
Raise the beds. Walls aren’t essential, but the top of the beds should be flat and higher than the surrounding grades with sloped edges for drainage. This lifting happens naturally if proper amounts of amendments are added to the existing soil.
Amendments should be 4 - 6” of compost, organic fertilizer (2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), lava sand (10 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), greensand or other rock minerals (4 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), and whole ground cornmeal (2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.). Rototill or fork amendments to a total depth of 8”.
Moisten beds before planting. Planting beds should be moistened after being prepared and before the planting begins - moist but not sopping wet. Do not plant in dry soil because the young roots will dehydrate quickly as they try to grow. Roots of transplants should be sopping wet and thoroughly hydrated by soaking in water with Garrett Juice added.
Plant high. Make sure plant flares are uncovered by removing excess soil. Set the plants high with the top of the rootballs slightly higher than the surrounding soil with flares dramatically high and visible. This is especially critical on woody plants. Setting plants too low can cause poor growth or drowning.
Mulch beds after planting with 2 - 3” of organic mulch after planting. Use shredded native tree trimmings for large plants and a thinner layer of compost for annuals and perennials. Never pile mulch onto the stems of plants.
In short - just add plenty of compost, rock minerals and sugars like molasses and cornmeal into the native soil and mulch all bare soil after planting.
Azalea bed prep. Mix 50% shredded hardwood bark, cedar or shredded coconut fiber with 50% finished compost. Add a 5 gallon bucket of lava sand and a 1 gallon bucket of greensand per cubic yard of mix. Thoroughly moisten the mixture prior to placing it in the bed - very important. Excavate 3” and place 15” of the above mix onto the beds. The entire mixture can be put above ground if it doesn’t block drainage. If it needs to be lowered, remove as little of the existing soil as possible. The top of the bed should be flat and the sides sloped at a 45 degree angle.
QUESTION: I wish to remove all Bermuda grass with sod cutter. How do I kill al remaining grass roots, to prep for flower garden.
ANSWER: Roots of the grass do not have to be removed. Only the stems, rhizomes and stolons have reproductive ability. Do not till first, that drives the reproductive pieces into the ground and causes a long term weed problem. Scrap or set the sod cutter t depth of 1/2 to 2" and throw that material in the compost pile. Mixed with leaves and other materials the grass will be ill by the composting process. Next mix in all the organic amendments. Here's the detailed description of that from the web site.
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