Earth Question

CA KateJuly 11, 2014

in all healthy soil there is an almost invisible system that actually makes the soil healthy and allows plants to grow. Sterile soil can actually be made healthy again and seeding that soil with this inoculant is part of that treatment.

I thought microzoic system, but that not correct. Help!???

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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I think you would enjoy reading 'Teaming with Microbes' subtitled A Gardeners Guide to the Soil Food Web. Published by Timber Press in 2006. Al

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:16PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

You may want to rethink your language on this issue. There is no such thing as sterile soil outside of a lab. The innoculants you are looking for are flying around in the air constantly reseeding your soil. There is generally no need to add mycorrhizae.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:21PM
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CA Kate

Mycorrhizae fungi is exactly the words for which I was looking! Thank you!

I do know that the soil isn't exactly sterile, but nothing will grow on this land. By adding in the mycorrhizae spores, plus compost and other nutrients, the soil can become fertile again more quickly than without.

Thank you Al for the book recommendation.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:26PM
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I love Timber Press's publications.

My soil was like that when I first bought my house. It's gradually gotten better with time. I don't rake, I just leave leaves and clippings lying around.

When I dug a hole to plant a new Sycamore to replace an elm, the soil was rich!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 3:03AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Our dirt is basically decomposed granite. You can almost watch these granite boulders decompose. It's pretty easy to knock pieces off with s chisel.

There are minerals in the soil, but not much more. We have one area bordering a driveway. At one end, everything grows great, but from the middle to the other end, all plants struggle.

We planted a row of the edible Moringa trees last fall. I knew the winter would cause die back, and it did, but in spring, two at one end are about 8 feet tall, blooming and giving us pods for dinner. Two in the middle are barely a foot tall, and two never grew more than a couple inches. The one at the bad end completely gave up. Even succulents there are lush at the good end, and barely alive at the other.

How does this happen? The plan is to seriously ammend the soil. It's not water. Everything there is on a drip system, and it's all working. I hand water the succulents. It's just puzzling. The dirt looks exactly the same. Maybe there is a boulder under that one end that nothing can penetrate?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:34AM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

Someone may have dumped something toxic (motor oil?) there in the past. It has happened on my property. Min

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:09PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I would use a post hole digger to go down about two feet to see what you are dealing with. If you have a soil probe that will also work if the soil is loose enough to push it into the ground. My guess is the soil structure is so bad it will not retain either water or nutrients. Al

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:35PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I told my husband your suggestions, and he is going to check deep in that soil today.

The toxic dumping could have happened also. This is a lower driveway and a previous owner stored his boat down there. Who knows what he may have dumped.

Even if we amend the soil, if its toxic, we may be out of luck. Is there any way to clean toxic soil?


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:57PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Years ago my wife's mother bought a new little house for her retirement, and though she loved to garden, her soil was impossible. After see passed and my wife inherited I was allowed to work in her garden. The more I dug the more building refuse I dug up. The contractor who built the house found it cheaper to bury the waste than to haul it away. If you want to find the problem, sometimes you need to dig. Al

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 4:17PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Well Al, hubby went down there and dug. Solid rock under there. Everyone on this hill names their biggest boulders! There are that many!

We have pretty much decided to just let the closest thriving Moringa tree get fat and hope it will fill in.

Hubby says there is about 4" of dirt on top of the boulder. Because seeds just need a one inch hole, I never realized it was solid rock under there.

He will use a pick to see if he can make a spot to grow something in it, but some things just aren't worth the trouble.

It might be a nice spot for a bench or garden chair.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 4:44PM
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CA Kate

Thyme likes DG ... And the roots aren't deep.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 9:39PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

For my Bday, my kids got me lots of herbs, along with this rubber dragon. They couldn't find a rubber snake to scare the birds, so they get me this dragon! LOL! Scares us when we encounter him, but the lizards think he's God. They gather around and do pushups.........

I'll split that Thyme in half and try some in the bad dirt, but I'm saving the rest in case that doesn't work out...


Just moved the dragon. Show some respect, Lizards!!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 9:53PM
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