Sunday, February 18, 2024

Improving Garaden Soil

Brad Olson talks about garden soil.


Gardening is not just about planting seeds and watching them grow; it's a delicate dance with the soil beneath our feet. Brad Olson of Olson's Garden Shoppe in Payson, Utah, recently shared his wisdom on how to achieve good soil for gardens.

Layering Mulch:

Brad begins with the simple act of layering mulch and other organic materials onto garden beds, a practice he suggests for the fall. Gardens can be augmented with sand, peat moss, mulch, and organic plant material, once brimming with life. This layering technique enriches the soil and fosters a thriving environment for plants.

Product Discoveries:

A trip to Olson's Garden Shoppe can provide a good selection of soil products. Among these is Olson's potting mix, which has the right ingredients for growing plants in pots. Brad recommends a finer soil mix for starting seeds. Whatever the soil used, it is important that is well aerated. Vermiculite or Perlite can be used in soils for aeration. Brad has discovered the wonders of Nutrimulch, a turkey compost made in Manti. When used in gardens, Nutrimulch nourishes the soil, helping plants grow better.

Potting Mix Alchemy:

Creating the best medium for growing plants became a focus for Brad, leading him to soilist mixes and the strategic use of visquine to get plants started early in the spring. He stressed the significance of excluding soil from potting mixes and advocated for a balanced blend of peat moss, perlite, and compost.

Raising Gardens to New Heights:

Brad's dedication to his craft is evident in his approach to raised gardens. He recommends raised bed gardens, using the Miller Grow Box Mix for optimum results - a third perlite, a third, compost, and a third peat moss. Each year, he adds layers to the raised gardens - potting soil, mulch, and screened topsoil. This layered approach creates a fertile ground for bountiful harvests, reaching depths of 12 to 18 inches.

Combatting Unwanted Seeds:

Preen, a popular weed preventer, can be used on lawns. However, Brad emphasized its limitation in planting seeds, indicating it can be used in growing transplants while simultaneously eliminating unwanted seeds.

The Science of Soil Composition:

Understanding soil composition is crucial. Soil consists of three elements - sand, silt, and clay. Sand helps aeration. Organic material must be added to augment it. Gypsum, available in both granular pellets and powder forms, is a valuable product to loosen clay soil.

Knowledge from Experts:

Brad stressed the importance of doing soil testing by experts. He highlighted soil testing services from Utah State Extension and BYU, which may cost as low as $28. Armed with this information, a person can augment the solid to make the garden produce better.

Plants grow best in soil that has a ph from 5.6 to 7. Adding organic material to the garden yearly helps ph levels. However, it may be necessary to add a product like Iron Plus to acidify the soil. Some plants like blue berries thrive in acidic soil and should be kept away from other plants or grown in pots.

Nutrient Balancing Act:

Brad delved into the intricacies of nutrient balancing, discussing the use of HuMic for lawns in spring. As a fertilizer HuMic, makes the need for multiple fertilizing of lawns unnecessary. Top dressing lawns with peat moss keeps water in and allows using less water. Preen can be used to stop unwanted seeds from growing in lawns. Weed Free Zone or Weed Out can be used against broad leaf plants in lawns including orchard grass.

Gardening fertilizers are made for specific purposes, with the first number on fertilizer bags representing nitrogen. Nitrogen helps plants green up and grow tall. High nitrogen fertilizer is particularly good for growing corn. The second number on fertilizer bags is phosphate. Phosphate produces better flowers, fruit, and roots. Blooming and Rooting, a phosphate rich fertilizer, has the number 9-58-9. The third number is for potassium. Potassium is important on the east coast, but not needed in Utah.

Long release fertilizer Osmocote has the numbers 14-14-14. It releases fertilizer overtime. In fruit orchards rake in fertilizer that is 16-16-8.

Closing Thoughts:

Brad Olson sees that successful gardening is a harmonious blend of science and art. By understanding soil composition, nutrient balance, and strategic practices, people can create flourishing gardens right in their backyards. Brad's passion for soil is contagious, inspiring us all to dig a little deeper into the roots of successful gardening.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment. No anonymous posts.