Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

March 8, 2009

Wakey Wakey...time to get up

It was time to wake up the garden beds this weekend. I can feel the subtle ache in my back as I sit her from a day filled with pitch-forking and shoveling. It felt G R E A T!! I love spring time!! I'll gladly take a little pain in the back if it means I get to put my hands in the ground. Remember last fall when I put the beds to sleep for the winter? I layered in chicken manure, grass clippings and some leaves then topped the whole bed off with some leaves. Here's what they looked like this afternoon before I started digging in them.When I turned them over I was struck by the life going on under the soil. The ground was dark and rich; wet, but not soaked and teeming with life. The work paid off. Check it out:See the worms? My gosh there were so many of them!! Literally every pitch-fork full had at least one worm in it, but generally closer to 5 or 6. I have big hopes this year. Isn't that what spring is all about after all? Every year we get this wonderful chance to go out and try to see what we can coax mother nature out of, sometimes we do well, sometimes she smacks us down but always we try right?

I also managed to try a soil quality test that I learned about a few weeks back in the Master Gardener class when we learned about soils. I filled a mason jar to a measured point in a mason jar and then filled the rest with water. I shook the jar vigorously for a few minutes until all the soil on the inside had been separated and mixed completely with the water in a suspension.

After doing this, I waited a few minutes to see what had settled to the bottom. There was only about a 1/4 inch at the bottom at best. This layer of sediment will be the sand. It is the largest and therefore the heaviest particles in the suspension. Next is the silt. There are different types of silt, some finer than others, and they settle next in the test. Here's the test after about 2 1/2 hrs. Most of the sediment has settled, which is a good sign. Why? because clay particles are so small that they can bind with the water and can take at least 24 hours before they are noticeably collecting.

I took the sample in to the class on Saturday to show it to my Master Gardening instructor for his opinion and he says that it seems to have very little clay in it. "It's good soil...you can grow in that." I believe were his actual words. It's one hell of a stretch from what I started with I tell ya. I have some of that soil that I kept. I plan to do a test of it to see what I end up with. The only question I have on it is whether the big silt layer is actually clay? I don't think so but I hope the further test will confirm.

I hope you all had a great weekend and maybe were able to get out into the dirt for a little while. If not...sorry... Spring will get there I promise!


Anonymous said...

I second your crowing. This is also my week to start prepping my garden beds. It feels so good to be out there again. I thought the mason jar soil test was very interesting.

Anonymous said...

welllll......I'm not so sure....but if YOU promise.... lol

Glad you were able to dig into those beds, my friend. It does look like a very nice soil, congrats! :)

Chiot's Run said...

I started with some serious clay soil, which the previous owners just dumped sand on top of (didn't even mix it in). It's been quite a challenge ammending the soil here at Chiot's Run. After 7 years it's starting to look much nice. After 20 I should have good loam!

Wendy said...

It was 50° yesterday, and spring was heavy in the air, but there's still a bit of snow left to melt before I can get to my garden beds.

This morning I woke up, and it's snowing again ;). I guess I'll have to wait another few weeks before I get to see how the winter left my soil.

But yours looks awesome, and I think I'll try that test ... although there's little concern about clay in my soil. It's pretty loamy.

Kory said...

If it stops raining I will do the same. Inspiring!

ilex said...

The ground is thawing here, but we still have the Great White North permafrost a few inches under the soft stuff- should be thawed by early April, though. But the smell of that thawing top layer- just spectacular! I'd like to bottle and sell that spring dirt smell- Eau de Terre?

P~ said...

Yeah Angie, I know...I'm a little over zealous :) but that's just me!!

Chiots, I started with very poor clay heavy top soil in our raised beds as well. We couldn't afford to buy good soil so we just amended every year with bulk compost. Working so far!

Ilex, you are so right. Send me a bottle when you get it together. LOL