Today I attend a program done by three experts in the St. Louis gardening community. Below are my notes from their presentations.
Paul Roberts – teacher at Meramec
Does not use fertilizer on the beds at Meramec CC.
(Note – these are not brand new beds, but ones that have been tended for 25 years. I’m sure your new garden soil is not as good.)
Earthworms are good. He even likes moles as they aerate the soil.
Uses tree chips from aroborists every two years as a mulch.
He does not incorporate organic matter into the soil.
He tells of one instance when a person actually had too much organic matter in the soil – 20%.
Recommends chicken manure as a fertilizer if you need fertilizer. Available at Hummerts.
Roy Gross – St. Louis Composting
A lot of soil in the St. Louis area is 1% to 2 % organic matter.
Build organic matter to 5% .
In general, he doesn’t like tilling except in some very new gardens with poor soil.
If your grass needs help in the fall – first aerate – then add 1/2″ Black Gold mulch.
Rain gardens are 30″ deep.
Pat Bellrose – Fahr Greenhouses
Compost is supposed to be turned every 5 to 7 days. If you do that it won’t smell. (My back hurts just thinking about that.)
PH – acidity
Compost has a PH of 9.
STL County water has a PH of 9.5
Most plants like a PH of 6.5 to 7.
My Conclusion – check you soil PH – every year.
Leaf Mold is not true compost.
Pine Bark has a PH of 4.5 to 5
You can use Iron sulfate to change PH quickly to more acid soil.
He uses a soil mix of 2 parts compost, 2 parts pine bark fines, 1 part rice hulls and 4 pounds iron sulfate and 5 pounds gypsum/yard. for his new plants in the greenhouse. No Peat Moss. Plants seed to like it even though the scientific analysis says it shouldn’t be that good.
This is available at St.Louis Composting – SLC-Pro Mix One
You have to buy it in bulk, but could bring in 5 gallon buckets.
He uses a water soluble fertilizer – 200 parts per million.
Note – that’s equal to .0002
Sand is for concrete – not soils.
Turface is Good
Cation Exchange Capacity –