Good Gardeners Sawdust and Soil - Common Traits

By: Thomas Fryd..


east February
There is a tremendous amount of misinformation about house plants, landscaping and gardening. Much of it unfortunately, you will hear on the radio or TV and read in newspapers. This is especially true in connection with some of the advertisements of concerns that are more interested in money than in satisfied customers.
Remember the most reliable source you have of garden information is your county agricultural agent, who gets his information from the Agricultural Extension Service and the Agricultural Experiment Station of your own state university. They know your local conditions and plants adapted to your locality.
As new gardening experiments are carried out, even the professionals have to change their ideas and recommendations from time to time. Despite these changes, many people are still gardening as their grandparents did. We might take note in passing (just to start an argument), that so far scientists have never found any connection between signs of the moon and the proper time to plant, sow seed and harvest. The condition of the soil, temperature, and moisture are far more important.
There are those who believe that unless their fertilizer comes from an animal it is not good for plants. This is wonderful for the sale of bone meal, sheep manure, or prepared barnyard manures. The joke of it is that once the material is dissolved in the soil so the plants can use it, the plants cant tell the difference.
It is usually cheaper to buy commercial fertilizers from a chemical plant than those that have been produced the expensive way by animal.
Saw Dust as Humus
Good gardeners, like good farmers, for years have known the value of incorporating organic matter with the soil for better plant growth. The cheaper you can buy this organic matter, the more money you will have for seeds and plants. There is no need to buy fancy treated peat. In fact, some of such high priced materials are so old that the organic matter in them is so broken down as to be of little, if any, value for improving soils.
Saw dust is too often overlooked as a source of organic matter for the garden. The coarser saw dust from outdoor saw mills is a little easier to use as a mulch than the very fine powdery saw dust from millwork finishing shops.
In either case, unless it is well weathered, ample fertilizer has to be supplied at the same time or your garden will be starved while the bacteria are using all the nitrogen present while they are decomposing the wood or other organic material. Now is a good time to start building up a supply pile in the back corner of your yard to use later either as a mulch on top of the ground or mixed with the soil as you would peat moss or rotted leaves, to loosen and aerate it.
Contrary to the belief of our grandparents, you neednt worry about saw dust making your soil acid (sour). That is actually something that was never mentioned in any soil chemistry guide or book. Have you worried that your plants are not getting all the nutrients they need from your soil? Have you been told by some soil chemistry lesson that you should supply them with the so-called trace elements? If so, in most parts of the midwest you can forget about it.
To begin with, most of these so called trace elements are present in commercial fertilizers that you buy, as impurities. Secondly, unless your own agricultural college tells you that some particular trace element is lacking in the soil in your locality, you can forget it. "It is true that in some areas like Florida, and the deep south, there are serious deficiencies, but for most of us, if we merely supply the three major elements - nitrogen, phosphorus and potash - we will be giving our plants all the nutrients they need.
Now is a good time to put in your supply of fertilizer for it keeps more or less in- definitely. There isnt a single yard that cant take a hundred pounds of any complete commercial fertilizer per year. And if your yard is larger than average, you may need two or three times this amount.

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Thomas Fryd shares his vast knowledge at www.plant-care.com. It's time to clear things up on the subject of soil chemistry.

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