Kicked Out Of Garden Writing Group?
Well not kicked out exactly, but on the verge of quitting. Here is the sequence: Editor #1 asks me to write an article, One hour later KABOOM it's emailed to her, she sends me her comments ( I knew my comments on liming wouldn't fly for a Master Gardener Writers Group especially when one of the four editors (that's right it is reviewed 4 times before print) is the county Agent so I had planned on rewriting that part. Next is my rejoinder to editor number one, then editor #2 sends her comments and puts the nail in the coffin with her comment "Don't know if he (county agent) will buy into all of your soil amendment stuff." ending with my withdrawal of the article. It might help to know my feelings that my previously published article on "Compost" was excellent but it had someone elses picture and name on it when it came out in print.
I miss that you are not writing in this four month block. There is still the article that everyone thought we should include in the spring on preparing your flower beds that you are welcome to write about. It is due February 17th to Pam for a March 7newspaper publish date. Master Gardener Unnamed says he will write it if you do not want that subject. Just want to give you the first shot at it...please don't feel pressured into doing it if you don't want to. That is not my intention. I just enjoy your writing.
Let me know yea or nay, please.
Happy New Year!
Here's the article:
Preparing The Bed by Eddie Rhoades of bittersweetgardens.com
It would have nice if we had all thought about planting a green manure cover crop this past winter. My favorite in this respect is crimson clover. If you leave it in the bed a little long it will have beautiful red composite flowers that bees just love so they are great for attracting pollinators to your garden early. It is also a plus that the seeds can be sown fall or winter. Crimson clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and fixes it in nodules on its roots. This is good but its main purpose as a green manure is in tilling it into the soil. Personal experience has taught me that you cannot just till in the mature plants, it must first be mown. Otherwise it would wrap around the tiller tines and you would spend all your time cleaning them off. After you mow the clover it must immediately be tilled into the soil. If you leave it overnight it will dry out and defeat the purpose of a green manure which is to add nitrogen to the soil and to attract earthworms.
I like to look at my lawn and play a simple game called Connect-The- Dots. Generally each tree has its own little circle of mulch (a dot) and there may be several of these scattered about the lawn. What I do is encircle them all with one big mulch bed that has a continuous single periphery, not a whole lot of little ones. This makes mowing, watering, planting, asthetics and a few other things better. Next, the Extension department recommends you do a soil test. They will send you a computer printout of ratios and proportions in tonnage per acre that you wont understand so go ahead and lime anyway. In making my little mulch piles into one bed (letÂs call it a berm). I first add available dirt which is generally red clay. Repeat after me "Red clay is GOOD."
GeorgiaÂs famous red clay has lots of minerals and great water holding capacity, it only needs amending to improve it. There are lots of commercial amendments out there and I will name a few but first I want to say that while proportions are sort of important they are not critical until you get into fertilizers and trace elements. But fertilizers and trace elements are not true soil amendments. Think of trace elements and micro-nutrients like putting salt and pepper on an egg: a little improves it, a lot ruins it.
My favorite soil amendments (now remember I said soil amendments not potting mixtures) are: Pine bark mini nuggets, sphagnum peat, perlite. If you use sand do NOT use play sand, use sharp sand or construction grade sand. Not strictly soil amendments but other products I use are water polymers that should be soaked in warm water and allowed to expand before using, greensand which provides trace elements, and any timed release fertilizer. For a strictly organic fertilizer you can try alfalfa pellets which is rabbit food and sold in Feed and Seed stores.
Till all this in and your flowers and vegetables will be stupendous. On top of all this I sometimes put down 4 or more sheets of newspaper overlapping at the edges. One must use small stones, sticks or water to keep the paper from blowing around. The purpose of the newspaper is to smother any grass and weeds. Anything that makes it by the paper should be greeted by Roundup. Next, I collect leaves in the neighborhood and sprinkle a good bit over the paper. On top of this I add a thin layer of pine straw. This straw does two things: it makes the whole berm appear to be solid pine straw plus pine straw doesnÂt develop "lift" like leaves so helps keep the whole thing from blowing around. Let this prepared area lay fallow as long as practical to allow it to mellow and the earthworms to multiply then simply dig individual holes and insert your plants.
As local plantsman Olen Morgan once said " The secret to successful gardening is not in the plants, itÂs in the soil."
Wow, that was fast!
Well, it will be too late to use a lot of it... especially the clover. They won't be reading it until March 7...so is there a way to rewrite it so it will be more timely? It is also 690 words...needs to be 500. There is also the "I" factor that I know editor#2 will say is not for a MG article (she doesn't want anyone to write in the first person). (county agent) won't like what you said about the soil sample...
I certainly sound ungrateful, don't I? Don't mean to be, just see the problems up front before I even turn it into editor #2. Do you want to rework it or forget about it?
Dear editor #1,
Yes, I knew there would be a problem with the way I worded the soil test info and planned to rewrite that part. I disagree with the "I" factor as The greatest garden writer the world has ever known, Henry Mitchell, wrote in the first person and for a newspaper at that. As far as saying it is " too late" to give out certain information, could that not be interpreted as a bit early for next year? There is more I could say but at this point why don't I just withdraw the article as you suggested.
From editor #2 to Eddie
Well, the article will almost need a rewrite for the paper. First, it is 200 words too long. The clover part won't help our readers this spring. Some of the rest I wonder if (county agent) will approve. He has to approve everything. Don't know if he will buy into all of your soil amendment stuff. I have a feeling he will scratch the lime anyway part. In my recent MG class they really pushed following the directions on the soil test! ( Some of it sounds like it came from the Eddie Rhoades Department of Agrigulture and not UGA. Now, the Eddie Rhoades Dept. of Agriculture is highly successful, I know, but may not be scientifically tested in a state of the art lab.) They are very particular what they will recommend. You will definitely have to speak more favorably of the Extension Service.
All that being said. What do you really want to do? You could ask (county agent) before you started your rewrite? How much time and work do you want to put into it. We would love to have you write for us but wonder if this is the right article.
Hope this helps. Let me know if I can help in any other way.
Dear editor #2
After reading editor #1's comments and realizing all the problems with the article I think it would be best to just withdraw it. I knew the soil test info would never fly and would have to be rewritten. #1 said Unnamed Master Gardener would write on this same topic so let's let him.