NDSU Extension - Ramsey County

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May 30, 2011 Horticulture Column

Howdy!!!  Well, for those of you with your plants planted I would imagine you are saying thanks for the rain.  For those of you still waiting to get your plants planted, like some of mine, you were probably hoping this rain would hold off.  And, for those of you that are just sick of water, I am guessing you thoughts are either why not or it really is time to moderate the attitude of our community.  I talked about soil amendments yesterday on the radio how the soil has become so hard to work with in our gardens.  This happens because of all of the moisture and water we have being held in our soil profile.  There are many good soil amendments to be used to include grass clippings and fallen tree leaves in the fall but the thing to remember is we need to do this yearly not just when we feel like it or when the ground seems extremely hard.  There are also many good products available at our local nurseries to help in the humas and/or organic structure of the soil profile.  Peat moss is a very classic example of a soil modifier and does do a very good job of loosening up the soil profile, however this one time application does not do the job sufficiently.  You will need to continually work on improving soil health.  Other products that include tree bark are another good source of amendments but be careful to not get too much bark.  Three years ago I used just bark and even though it did  a wonderful job of loosening the soil the bark actually held more water making the ground too saturated for good plant development.  This is not the usual however.  Peat as mentioned does do a very good job but like most all other jobs we need to keep after the soil profile so one year does not do the job meaning we need to be prudent about doing amending every year.  Time to go but we do need this rain to quit. 

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