This is the time of year when the ostrich ferns seem to grow right before your eyes! Being outside so much with Finn (literally having a ball), I have had lots of time to look and see what’s there (without DOING). I may casually lean over and sweep dirt and pebbles off the rock wall and steps with the side of my hand, or gather up the dessicated catalpa pods, but mostly I am looking. There is evidence of the harsh impositions of this past winter everywhere.
As we trip toward June, the garden truly calls. I will be simplifying out there, as I have been doing everywhere else. There’s no need, for instance, to keep every wild garlic and every naturalized clump of spring flower when they turn the entire line of plantings into a giant mess.
I have a little landscaping job two blocks away that will keep me busy for a few days as well. The question presented was — why are plants dying with such regularity? I thought we might need to test the soil or limb some of the shade-giving maples. Turns out, the soil (EVERYWHERE) is densely packed with a fine mesh of nearly impenetrable roots — so much so that an azalea planted last year had what looked like pot-bound roots. Needless to say, it did not thrive.
“What happens when our need for nourishment is blocked?” is a question I will be with as Danny and I work. Dig, dig, dig (it’s HARD digging), shake, shake, shake (capturing some of the existing soil), and then: amend. How satisfying to then spade and turn the friable, rich soil!
Dee, I happened to stop by your blog on a day when you’ve asked the question “What happens when our need for nourishment is blocked?” Interesting “coincidence”, I think. How rewarding it must feel to unblock and renew that soil!
I would like to know more, Chris. It seems to be an issue that never fully goes away. But maybe that is as it should be?
am always amazed when people talk about digging in gardens, we just add organic matter and mulch and let the worms do the work!
I am adding organic matter by the shovelful. I doubt worms would frequent soil that is so impacted with roots. Anyway, they will eventually!
I worked in the Botanic Gardens here in Sydney where the trees are old and very established when planting out in the under story we would carefully dig out a space for each new plant with a hand trowel so the old tree’s feeder roots would feel happy, adding organic matter in spring and mulch, then water and the worms work miracles, we do very little digging!
These garden beds have not been worked in decades. They were back filled with gravel-ish dirt rather than loam. Normally I only dig a hole big enough to place a plant, but in order to make her soil less like rock, it seemed worth the effort to extend where we dug. No trees will be harmed, I’m sure. Apparently they have to have their pipes reamed once a year to rid them of invasive roots.
add tons of organic matter ie 2 inches of good well rotted compost and 4 inches of leaf litter mulch & mulch, no matter how awful the soil is, it will always help!
Thanks mo. I had planned as much but not quite in those quantities.
we add that much organic matter every year for all our gardens
Well I wish someone had done that at this home once or twice!