The growing medium for plants, primarily consisting of rock fragments, organic material, water, and organisms.

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How do I work with soil that has a high clay content?

The clay content in my garden soil is rather high. Tilling it is a royal pain, especially if there is even the slightest hint of moisture in the soil. It just turns into big sticky clumps instead of ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is it a problem to use manure as a fertilizing amendment over the long term?

I had my soil tested last fall. As part of the submission I checked the box that said I use manure as a soil amendment / fertilizer. In the results from the lab, they included a note that said that ...
17
votes
2answers
818 views

Nothing will grow where tree was

Back in the spring we cut down a fruitless mulberry and hired someone to come grind the stump. When they were leaving they informed me that they poured a chemical into the hole where the remaining ...
17
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3answers
2k views

Do legumes provide nitrogen to their companions?

It's common knowledge that legumes (clover, beans, etc) can (with the help of Rhizobium bacteria) fix nitrogen from the air and hold it in the soil. Much is made of this fact -- advice that we should ...
16
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2answers
955 views

Will dumping paint destroy a nearby tree?

One of my neighbors complained that another neighbor killed a tree in front of her home by dumping paint in the soil. (Never mind that his trees are fine and there seems no way the paint could be ...
16
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2answers
2k views

What actually occurs for manure to become considered “well-rotted”?

I know that you shouldn't use raw manure on plants because it's bad for them, but I don't understand why. I know you should stack manure before using it (i.e. literally stack it into a big cone), and ...
15
votes
2answers
6k views

Is it really important to give blueberry plants acidic soil?

I have two blueberry bushes which I planted at the end of the summer. Although I had read online that they prefer acidic soil, I didn't have the time to check the pH of our soil, and go out to buy ...
15
votes
1answer
765 views

How can I correct a nutrient excess in soil?

The soil sample I took last fall from my vegetable garden came back from the lab with this result: Optimum Range Calcium, Mehlich 3 (Ca) 2063 ...
14
votes
3answers
832 views

How should I till topsoil into thick clay in small garden beds?

My house is in an area where the native earth is basically solid clay. This means that wet or dry, you can't dig with a shovel and get crumbling dirt — it always clumps together, unless you ...
13
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2answers
1k views

My garden soil is devoid of nutrients, how should I improve it this winter?

The garden area in my yard has soil that even the weeds don't particularly love to grow in during the summer. They will make a half hearted attempt in the winter, but it definitely isn't as lush as ...
13
votes
1answer
392 views

Can I fix a garden tilled too early?

I've never been totally successful in waiting till the exact opportune moment to till my garden and I don't suppose that I ever will be. I usually till my garden once or twice and when I'm ready to ...
13
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2answers
443 views

What is in seed starting soil that justifies wearing gloves while handling?

I was adding miracle-gro seed starting soil to paper pots with my daughter a few months ago and was a little leery about letting her touch the stuff (let alone breathe it in). What's in it that is ...
12
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2answers
1k views

Can we take out the whole root of Aloe Vera and replant it during transplant?

I bought a Aloe Vera in a shop a year ago and I just use the pot that came with it, so obviously I don't know what is in the soil and their components. Yesterday I felt that I should transplant the ...
12
votes
1answer
211 views

Is triple digging worth the backache in temperate biomes?

I read in Tips for the Lazy Gardener that gardens in drier parts of Africa can be triple dug (as opposed to double dug, or as I prefer, barely dug) which will somehow absorb more water during the ...
12
votes
1answer
290 views

What are the primary nutrients utilized by plants beyond NPK?

When talking about soil and fertilizers, what are the primary nutrients in addition to NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) that play a major role in plant development?
11
votes
3answers
326 views

What should I do if the soil shrinks and separates from the flowerpot walls?

Recently we relocated a cactus into a new flowerpot. When it was planted the soil would evenly occupy the flowerpot and adjoin the flowerpot side walls. The soil isn't cactus soil, but just regular ...
11
votes
1answer
284 views

Are all kinds of earthworms good for the soil?

A few days ago, I found a tiny (1cm in length) earthworm inside my pot. In general, earthworms are beneficial in improving soil fertility. Are all kinds of earthworms good for the soil?
11
votes
1answer
353 views

What type of tester works best for measuring soil pH?

I want to measure the pH of soil in my potted plants (especially for the dwarf citrus trees that I just bought). I've seen many different options: expensive laboratory-grade meters, cheap digital ...
11
votes
1answer
449 views

Do I need to correct the pH of my newly re-potted citrus tree?

I tried my hand at making my own soil for my citrus tree re potting. See below for the long story reasoning. I mixed EKO store bought (I live in an apartment) organic compost with coco coir and ...
11
votes
1answer
773 views

What are the ideal soil conditions for planting giant sequoia saplings?

I've already germinated giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) seeds for 6 weeks. What's the ideal soil conditions for planting the saplings?
10
votes
3answers
339 views

How should I improve my extremely clayey soil?

I live in North Carolina and the soil here has an extremely high clay content. I have used soil conditioner that consists of composted pine fines to amend the soil. It does an excellent job of ...
10
votes
3answers
671 views

Is charcoal good for use as a soil amendment?

I came across an article the other day on wikipedia about Terra preta. Has anyone used charcoal like this to enhance sandy soil, like we have in Florida? Does this really work, and what is the best ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is there concrete buried across my entire backyard?

As I was planting a few fruit trees last weekend, I discovered an odd and very annoying phenomenon. About 6" down from ground level, I ran across a 2" layer of really crumbly concrete/gravel mixture. ...
10
votes
2answers
218 views

What plants take easily to clay soils?

I live in central Scotland, which is a bit damp, and the soil in my garden, despite years of aerating, adding sand etc is still quite a thick clay soil. When it is sunny I get sun all day long, so ...
10
votes
1answer
119 views

When is the earliest that I can safely add worms to my garden?

I live in northern Indiana and it is currently snowing. I want to add worms to my garden. Should I wait for it to warm up, start raining, or what?
9
votes
3answers
1k views

What do I use to fill in low spots in my yard?

I have low spots in my yard that I would like to slowly fill in. This isn't anything big enough to constitute a truck load of dirt or anything. What can I use (either dirt or manure) to fix these ...
9
votes
2answers
7k views

What techniques can be used to manually sieve stones from the soil efficiently?

After our house was built there is quite a bit of hardfill (river pebbles) mixed up with the topsoil around the section (approx 180sq.m.). We want to level the section, and loosen the top layer of ...
9
votes
3answers
727 views

Is it safe to change the entire soil surrounding the roots?

Usually when you buy plants from the store, the soil type might not be suitable to them. Is it safe to change the soil completely? I mean to remove all the soil around most of the roots, then put it ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

Is it safe to eat fruits and vegetables planted in a pet cemetery?

Are there any safety concerns in eating fruit and veggies from plants that have been growing where dead pets have been buried? Not a full blown pet cemetery, but a small and intimate location in the ...
9
votes
2answers
388 views

Good soil mix for bonsai?

What is a good generic bonsai soil mix? What ratio of organic / inorganic material should be included?
9
votes
1answer
392 views

My lawn is full of wild strawberries. What else can thrive in my soil?

My lawn seems to have more wild strawberries than grass (especially in the shady areas), which means it needs some work. But if it can support strawberries, there must be some great ...
9
votes
1answer
288 views

Why is it bad to mix layers of soil if you do it once at the start?

In the answer @bstpierre gave to this question on ammending soil he mentioned mixing layers of soil during double digging is a bad idea. I was wondering why is this? I imagine mixing the layers at ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Will leveling uneven lawns with extra sand kill future lawns?

I just removed my old front stoop: it was a wall of field stone, filled with a layer of pea stone and 2x8x8 cubic feet of sand, and finally covered by slate. I want to level my very uneven lawn with ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I prevent stones from rising to the soil surface each year?

My allotment has a lot of flint stone (UK, Bucks area). I am preparing the beds for the first time, and have been reducing the amount of stone as much as possible by raking and removing stones as I ...
8
votes
4answers
359 views

Do any plants add nutrients back into the soil as they grow?

It seems reasonable that there ought to be at least a few symbiotic plant varieties that benefit from improving soil condition for other plants. If not that, are there plants that essentially improve ...
8
votes
3answers
6k views

Can I grow a fruit bearing pistachio tree?

I live in Zone 7 in Northwest texas. It's pretty dry here and the soil is mostly hard clay. I'm very interested in growing fruit bearing pistachio trees, but haven't been able to find any local ...
8
votes
4answers
8k views

How do I improve drainage vertically through clayey soil?

I live on a hill where the soil has lots of clay. My back garden has been terraced with small (1m) retaining walls. The net result is that we have several lawns / gardens with the following ...
8
votes
4answers
10k views

What is the best type of soil for growing an indoor avocado plant?

Do you know what is the best soil for an avocado plant? Would it vary depending on the breed? What would be a good recipe for this soil (for growing indoors)?
8
votes
2answers
174 views

What special steps should I take to prepare my garden for fall planting?

I am starting to think and plan out my fall/winter garden. I am looking at trying to plant some crops that will be overwintered and some crops that I can harvest before spring. What special steps ...
8
votes
1answer
111 views

Where should I get my garden soil tested?

This spring, I plan on growing vegetables on land that is new to me. How do I find a lab to test my soil? Will some labs give me information that others might not? Also, how much can I expect to pay ...
7
votes
6answers
237 views

What are the pros/cons of different mulches?

I know there will be differing opinions on this subject, from different people. I, for one, have always used bark mulch, and can attest to the fact that when used properly, it will build soil and grow ...
7
votes
5answers
699 views

Is there a way I can make transparent soil for plants at home?

I want to observe root development of plants for a hobby home experiment. I need transparent soil for this purpose. I asked some local gardening stores for it, but they said that they don't sell such ...
7
votes
2answers
286 views

Top Dressing: When and How

I recently started composting, and I was reading about top-dressing. Two questions I have about top-dressing are: Is there a maximum to it? Most of my reading suggests up to once a year max. Do I ...
7
votes
2answers
167 views

Why use potting mix instead of natural soil?

Being a layman who is thinking of starting to garden in the yard I have a question in mind. Why does one need to buy potting mix and why not use natural soil for gardening? I live in Melbourne ...
7
votes
3answers
534 views

What should I do to rescue grass from a petrol spill?

We had some less than stellar workmen do some work a few weeks ago, and one of them spilled a substantial amount of petrol onto our front lawn. There is now an area about 100cm in diameter where the ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Is mulch or topsoil better for new lawn in clay soil?

We just built a new home and the back yard has quite a bit of clay in it. We are planning on seeding the yard in the next month (September). I'm trying to decide between topsoil (4-6 inches) or ...
7
votes
2answers
399 views

Does commercial (bagged) soil eventually expire/die?

I have several piles of commercial, bagged top soil and potting mix that have been lying in my garage for at least 10 years. I'm doing some renovations and can really use some extra soil for some new ...
7
votes
2answers
692 views

How can I clean up soil mixed with spruce needles?

I have some garden soil that has decaying spruce needles mixed through it. What should I do to the soil in order to grow vegetables in it normally?
7
votes
1answer
232 views

Why is the soil shrinking in my backyard?

In the last 6 months the level of the soil in my back yard has dropped 4-6 inches exposing all the sprinkler heads and tree roots. Whats going on?
7
votes
1answer
495 views

How much soil do I need on top of my hugelkultur beds?

I'm building a bunch of hugelkultur beds from the blowdowns, branches, trimmings, and sticks we have scattered around the property. This weekend I built a 20' long, 5' wide, 2-3' high pile of (mostly ...