Lunch and Learn—Roots and Soils

So my awesome employer regularly hosts company wide Lunch and Learn programs that are fully sponsored and covered a wide range of topics from Financing Your Future to Breast Cancer Awareness to my latest venture, Gardening. Once a week for four weeks, Clemson Agricultural Extension volunteers are teaching a 1 hour class and it’s awesome! I wanted to share some about it last week but was super bogged down with things going on, but will try to catch you up really quick on some cool points so I can share today’s class with you as well.

Last Tuesday roots and soils were covered. The biggest shocker I think the whole class had to absorb was the biggest mistake we all make with flowers, plants, vegetables is fertilizing and watering. Everyone wants to nurture and help the little struggling plant, but when you think about it, the more you provide fertilizer and water for the plant, the less the plant has to learn to grow roots and depend on it’s natural ability to obtain air and water and the more it waits on you to come around every day with your watering can. Ever wonder why it’s always droopy until you get there? It’s like a bad addiction. It’s all sickly and strung out and then BAM! Water can makes it happy so you think you must be doing something right. Well….time’s up rose bushes. You’re on your own! And just to clarify, these notes are pertaining to in-ground plants. Obviously you have to regularly water indoor, potted ones. Turns out, according to our lesson, your in-ground plant is only going to really ingest around 1″ of water a week.

Then for fertilizing. Scotts, Miracle-Grow, whatever you use, do you know why you’re using it? Because plants can eat. That’s that whole photosynthesis thing we all learned back in 3rd grade. They don’t need you to feed them all the time. Not that there aren’t times they might actually need it, but weekly? I don’t think so. Also, why are you fertilizing and with what? Do you truly know what’s already in your soil that your plants are obtaining versus what’s missing? Clemson Extension constantly recommends soil samples like they’re funding IPTAY scholarships or something but they aren’t. They’re only $5 or $6 a sample and generates a fabulous report to educate you on exactly what your soil needs for exactly what you want. Are you trying to improve your lawn’s look and appearance or grow vegetables? They’ll tell you what you need to add or amend to make your goal happen. This is something I’ve always known but have been outright too lazy to make it happen. Lucky for me, today’s class is when we submit our soil samples.

Here’s what your soil sample bag will look like with a sticky next to it for size reference (and down and dirty personal info editing—sorry it’s so ugly). So it doesn’t take much soil. Our garden is 320 square foot. I pulled 4 samples representing each quadrant with my husband’s soil auger. Never knew what that was before this morning—just kinda kept moving it around the garage. But it was super helpful today! I dumped the auger’s contents into a Tupperware altogether and mixed them with a fork and this will be my sample. However, do note, that you cannot send off wet soil samples. They must be dry. Did I do my homework last week when we hadn’t had rain for 16 days straight? Please. Of course I went out of town while it monsooned for 3 days straight, woke up this morning and seriously had to trek through the mud in rain boots to collect my sample at 7:00 am. So as of 9:00 am this morning—my mud (soil) is sunbathing outside at work hoping to reach a dry enough state by lunch time. Keep your fingers crossed. I really don’t want to fail the only homework assignment for this class…


One response to “Lunch and Learn—Roots and Soils

  1. Hehehe, finely, some common sense.
    Plants set roots where the water is. If you water several times a week all their roots will be 1/2 to 1 inch deep, this is a bad thing.
    Don’t be concerned if your plants are somewhat wilted at 5PM the hottest part of the day. Look at them at 7 or 8AM, if they recovered during the night they Are Not water stressed. Dig down at least 2 inches when checking your soil. It is of little importance if the top 2 inches are bone dry. If the soil is moist below the 2 inch level plants do not need water. Plants will send out feeder roots into moist soil whether that be 1/2 inch deep or 4 inches deep.

    Many more plants have been killed by over watering and over feeding than from lack of water or nutrients.
    Great post

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