A soil question

Adam Fikso adam14113@ameritech.net
Sat, 15 May 2010 15:16:15 PDT

There's a good questiion and it's partly a semantic matter, rather than a 
matter of culture of plants.  What's being referred to here is actually a 
clay-based soil, a clayey loam ( in all likelihood).  Using the cake 
metaphor is very good. and knifing leaves and compost into the clay is one 
way of doing it. .  What this will do is break it up for better aeration 
You're going to improve your soil by adding a volume of compostable material 
(rough and only partially decomposed in an amount about equal to at least 
the volume of the clay--including bark and twigs). Start with about a 
good-sized shovelfull.   Then add an amount of coarse builder's sand equal 
to the already improved (and worked volume)  of material you started with. 
Clay is now about 1/4th the volume of the entire mess.  Add in about a half 
pint of pelletized gypsum.  Mix it all, water it, and it'll grow most plants 
very well. It should drain freely   A large flower pot of it should drain in 
less than 5 minutes if filled to the brim and watered with a gallon of 

If it doesn't drain this fast, get coarser sand to add, and put in more of 
the coarse compostable material. Consider this a kind of baseline soil to 
work with.  This may not work for everybody, but it works for me with the 
clayey loam I have here that turns to near concrete in the summer when the 
thermometer climbs into the 90s.
  I can grow most lilies in it, arisaemas, vegetables, local native plants, 
Asian arisaemas, rhododendrons and azaleas, lilies, irises, 
erythroniums,hymenocallis, hellebores, tree peonies and herbaceous types, 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Laura & Dave" <toadlily@olywa.net>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2010 2:55 PM
Subject: [pbs] A soil question

> Hello all
>  Perhaps some of you can explain something regarding soils to me.  I
> was looking up culture for potted "Ipheion sellowianum" (yes, I know
> that it may be called something else now), and I have once again run
> across the phrase "a clay soil, rich in organic matter".   When I think
> of clay, it is the type found for making into pots, bowls, plates and
> chalices.  There is no organic matter, that I know of.  When I've dug
> around in the ground in Southern Ohio, at my in-laws' place, there seems
> to be a layer of organic matter on the surface, in various stages of
> decay as one descends into the soil, and then a fairly homogeneous layer
> of clay, reaching down to bedrock.  Is the organic matter spoken of in
> the clay in a micro particle state in the clay?  Or is the organic
> matter at the molecular scale; that is, only organic molecules?
>  Does one duplicate this soil by putting compost into clay, and knifing
> it in, kinda like making biscuits with shortening and flour?  What
> substitute soil type fools the plants into thinking that they are in
> their ideal conditions?
>  I've come to the conclusion that soil is the key to understanding
> plant growth; if you reverse the way one looks at plants, with the main
> organism underground, and  an attached solar collector, ventilation
> system and reproductive organs all stuck up to wave around in the
> weather, you see what I'm thinking.
>  However, the study of soil is a difficult subject, and I'd welcome any
> help here that I can get!!
> Thanks
>  Dave Brastow, Tumwater Washington (7A)
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