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25 votes
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What is a 'Perched Water Table'?

Well, basically, the perched table is the saturation point, where the capillary action in the soil is canceled out by the force of gravity. Every type of growing media has a different perched table. ...
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21 votes
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Does a pine needle mulch make your soil acidic?

No, in your lifetime, normal amounts of pine needles will not measurably acidify your soil. They are somewhat acidic, and acidify soil over long periods of time, unless the soil base is extremely ...
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21 votes

Adding worms to clay soil - worth it?

There's little point in adding worms to soil which seems to have none, they'll just go elsewhere - the thing to add is as much organic material as possible, so if you can get hold of things like leaf ...
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17 votes
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Do any plants add nutrients back into the soil as they grow?

Legumes are often used for this purpose. From Wikipedia: Legumes are notable in that most of them have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in structures called root nodules. And Within legume ...
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16 votes

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

It's called "granular convection" and there's really nothing you can do about it except continue to remove the stones as they come up. The winter cold and the water in the soil help this along - I'm ...
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14 votes
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How can I prevent stones from rising to the soil surface each year?

Well, in my area, unless you add about 6" of soil every year, the stones will rise to the surface each spring. Around here, we call it the 'crop'. I've heard it is frost action working on the stones ...
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13 votes

Are there any benefits from leaving dead leaves in the soil around a plant?

Leaves are good compost if they are shredded. If left as is on garden beds or lawns they tend to clump and can smother the smaller perennials. To do my fall clean up I put a bagger on the mower and ...
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13 votes
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Why it is bad to add sand to soil?

This reference says that you need to add prohibitive amounts of sand to remediate clay soils. And if you don't get it right, you get a soil like concrete The problems occur when sand and clay are ...
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12 votes
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How often should I loosen soil?

Once, and then don't walk on it. Since you are starting with raised beds, which presumably have not been walked on since they were made, I'd not get overly concerned about it. There are, to be sure, ...
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12 votes

How to keep soil a rich black colour

Well soil is just the color it is. Some soils are dark brown, some are red, some are yellow. After several years of conditioning with good compost all soil will darken with organic material. If you ...
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11 votes
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Why do blueberries need acidic soil?

Blueberries have a rudimentary root system that doesn't have the finer root hairs found on most plants. They grow best in forest duff (lots of acidic, organic matter). The acidic nature of the soil ...
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  • 3,873
11 votes

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

Agree with J Musser's answer - where I lived, the soil was very stoney, and yes, they do surface every year, and you notice them particularly after winter. I used to wonder if it was the rotation of ...
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10 votes
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Does soil need sunlight?

No, provided the 'garden fabric' is water and air permeable and not thick plastic. Geotextile fabrics are commonly used in areas with existing planting, usually with some kind of decorative mulch on ...
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10 votes

What type of dirt to use for filling the backyard before preparing the vegetable beds?

Good quality topsoil is probably best, preferably with some organic or humus rich composted materials added (composted animal manures, leaf mould, spent mushroom compost, garden compost, anything like ...
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10 votes
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What is this caterpillar?

Hippotion celerio (Linnaeus, 1758) Gabi Moth, Vine Hawk Moth You must have disturbed it as it has tucked its head under its thorax and expanded its eye segments. It's agriculturally important as the ...
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9 votes
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What do people mean when they talk about soil going sour?

Sour and sweet are different words for acid and alkaline, respectively. Going sour is usually a bad thing, but some plants (such as azaleas, blueberries, most conifers, etc) prefer sour soil. Some ...
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9 votes

What's the best way to remove grass/topsoil to prepare for grading?

It depends on whether you want to keep the sod or no and if the ground is already pretty flat. I haven't used a sod cutter, but I think the ground has to be fairly level. I don't think it works well ...
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  • 5,042
9 votes

Ideas needed to sort out this waterlogged, dark, mess in front of my house

It's not good for that water to be sitting around your foundation like that. I have a few suggestions that vary in the level of time, money, or practicality. The simplest is going to be to add dirt ...
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  • 5,042
8 votes

To be effective, how long does Glyphosate weed killer need to be applied before it rains?

From pioneer.com: "Foliar absorption of herbicides occurs in a liquid phase only; once a water droplet has dried on the leaf surface and herbicides have crystallized little to no additional ...
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8 votes
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What is the advantage of a raised bed over clay soil vs just amending the clay soil?

I find that raised beds are best for: early spring production drainage square foot garden (limited space) older people And I have also found that I can grow more per plant in the ground beds, but ...
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8 votes
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How to 'clean' topsoil of weeds & pests before giving it to a friend

I would recommend just warning them and not treating the soil at all, unless they request a specific treatment when you ask, or unless they're in another state or you know your soil has particularly ...
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8 votes

How often should I loosen soil?

Unless it is rock hard you really do not loosen the soil, because when you do you should keep in mind all of the weed seed under will be giving them a chance to sprout (unless it came in a bag). ...
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  • 2,572
8 votes

Is it helpful to add coffee grounds to a droopy mother-in-law's tongue?

No; the current fad for coffee grounds use is just that, a fad, and its not helpful for almost all potted plants. Remove the coffee grounds, or as many as you can, they don't do any good at all and ...
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  • 129k
8 votes

Medium you can add to soil to improve airiness and create loose soil

This link (10 Ingredients to Make Your Own Potting Soil) lists ten ingredients for making your own potting soil. The only thing I would add is, where it talks about compost you've made yourself, it ...
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  • 129k
7 votes

What is this houseplant, and why has it been dropping leaves?

This plant is Dracaena marginata. See an answer to the same question here. It needs a soil that drains better than vegetable soil which is most likely heavy on the peat moss. Also check for spider ...
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  • 56.2k
7 votes

What is the scientific term that describes soil that resists water?

Hydrophobic soils repel water or absorb it weakly. The opposite term is hydrophilic.
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  • 7,159
7 votes

What are the pros/cons of different mulches?

For ornamental use In my area, the most common mulch for landscaped ornamental beds is premium shredded bark mulch (my source) It's very nice to work with, is partially decomposed (usually very hot ...
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7 votes
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How far down do I need to dig when sifting out rocks from a garden?

Although much root activity occupies the top 6 inches of soil, many vegetables need 2 feet of soil or more. Janet Beal The depth of your bed will be determined by what you want to grow. Shallow ...
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7 votes
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What's a nitrogen-fixing ground-cover that grows on very little rainfall?

Not exactly a ground cover, but perhaps Mesquite? It is a legume... New Mexico State University Guide 150 lists a number of cover crops (which may not suit the homeowner's sense of "groundcover") ...
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  • 18.4k
7 votes

How to keep soil a rich black colour

From my own experience I've found that if your plants can tolerate a little acidity, you can blend in dark hemlock bark fines. They can be had around my area for about 20 dollars a cubic yard. Dark ...
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