52March 02, 2017

Last week, I talked to you about problems with the soil in your gardens. This week, I want to give you some suggestions on how to fix a problem soil in your gardens.

Many of you have raised beds in your gardens. You may have bought a kit or you may have purchased some lumber to make the bed. Once you made the raised bed, you needed to fill the bed with soil. You may have purchased a yard or more of loam and put that into the bed. You may have purchases a number of bags of garden soil to fill the beds. The issue may be the quality of the soil that you used in the bed. In order for the plants to grow in the bed, the soil needs to have the ability to hold nutrients and water and it needs to have the ability to let excess water to drain away. If the soil contains a lot of sand, you will need to add compost or peat moss to the soil. On the other hand, if there is clay in the soil, you will need to add horticultural gypsum and sand to the soil. If you are adding any of the products to the existing soil, you need to thoroughly mix that product in with the existing soil. If you just place the product on top of the existing soil, it is not going to improve all of the soil.

One of the issues that come up is the removal of the soil. Sometimes you may start a new flowerbed or vegetable garden in your yard. You will turn over the soil and you may find that you are digging into rock hard clay or you may find a lot of gravel and stones. This type of situation is when many people consider putting in raised beds. If you decide that you don’t want to put in a raised bed, then your option should be to remove the “ bad “ soil and bring in new soil. I will tell you that this is a big job to do. If you are doing a small area, you can do the job with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. If it is a larger area, you may need to bring in powered equipment to dig out the area. If you are planting perennials or annuals, you should dig out the soil to a depth of 6 to 12 inches. If you are putting in a vegetable garden, you need to dig down to a depth of 6 inches at a minimum. Removing the soil to a depth of 12 inches or more would be better. When you are replacing the soil, just make sure that you are replacing the soil with a good quality soil. You may have to amend the soil with compost or peat moss. Ultimately, you don’t want to go through all that work and wind up with only a slightly better soil than you originally had in your garden.

If you are digging up your garden and you will be digging down to a depth of 6 to 12 inches, you need to be aware that you might encounter utilities that are buried underground. If you damage those utilities, you are responsible for the repair of those utilities. To prevent damage to any underground utilities, there is a program set up by the utilities called DigSafe. Before you dig, you need to call DigSafe at least 72 hours before you wish to start. You need to mark the area where you will be digging. DigSafe will come and mark any areas where there are underground utilities. In most of the New England states, it is a law that you call DigSafe before you begin a project that requires digging underground.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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