No dig garden & pine soil

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Old 10-15-00, 04:40 PM
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I have heard there is a way to prepare the soil in the fall by lying compost and other organic matter on unturned soil. Have you ever heard of this and how is it done. Also what is usally needed to amend soil that is under pine trees?
 
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Old 10-16-00, 04:39 AM
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Yes, I have heard of it and have experimented with some methods. Keep in mind that most of these are designed to take effect over a long term - "years".

The basic theory is that between the occasional digging in the soil to plant seeds and plants and the action of earthworms the soil amendments you place on top will be taken on down into the sub-surface. The following is a description of some of the methods.

1. No till: Simply lay the compost and/or other organic matter on top. That's it. By adding material at least 3"-4" deep (preferably deeper) and keeping adding to it you eventually effect a soil change.

2. As above but put down several layers of newspaper (no colored ink) first. This is sometimes used in an area where you wish to smother out weeds, lawn, "or" and begin a new planting bed. In the spring just make holes down through the newspaper to put in your plants.

3. Have your soil clean of all plant/weed material, lay down your compost and soil amendments, then use a spading fork. "But" don't dig - just push the fork tines down into the soil and rock the fork back and forth. This loosens the soil compaction. Pull the spading fork back out and move over one fork width and repeat. Do this every few inches (in rows) across and down the length of the bed.

I saw this one on Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch's show called Gardening Naturally. Both of these people are well respected in their field and quite frankly this one made the most sense. I couldn't wait to pop out and try it.

On top of the fact that you can be out all day with a spading fork in your hand and not have an aching back it did leave loosened soil for planting, the rocking action does allow some of the amendments to fall down into the lower levels of the soil, and overall it seemed to have the most beneficial effect. Needless to say I was quite pleased with this method and have adopted it for my garden.

If you want to have a little fun gardening pop on over to your local library and check out Eliot's book "Four-Season Harvest" and Barbara's book "The Garden Primer". I have these in my personal library and refer to them quite often. In addition to being great people personally these two are quite a knowledgeable combination in addition to being husband and wife.

As for the soil under the pine trees the answer depends on what kind of soil you have, acid/alkaline, nutrient levels, etc. The best thing you can do for this soil and for the process above is to have a soil test done. Ask at your local garden center to see who does this in your area.

No point in adding any amendments you don't need. In fact, adding some amendments you don't need can actually be harmful. Just follow the recommendation that will come with the results of the test.

Best - Ladybug

 
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