Thursday, June 7, 2012
Old as Dirt? Get Yourself Some New Soil, 'Dig'?
You've probably heard the expression "old as dirt." Since true soil or "dirt" is mostly weathered rock with some well-rotted plant material mixed in, you can understand why that expression came into being. Now Florida doesn't have much weathered rock or soil, but it does have a lot of sand, as you can see just beyond the boundary of the vegetable garden. The veggies in my garden this year consist of a few scatter-planted green beans, some cucumbers, onions, tomatoes mostly in pots, and various herbs for seasoning everything. Since we moved back in mid-March, I didn't have enough time early in the spring to properly prepare the ground for summer planting. I needed some real dirt real quick, or the garden would fail just as miserably as in years past.
Our decision to attend church at the same place we used to go when we first moved here proved to be more fruitful than I could have imagined. Thanks to good friend and fellow gardener with a business, Cliff Martin, we now have some real dirt. He "makes" the stuff himself with mostly cotton seed hulls and other organic goodies. He won't give me the exact recipe for it, but maybe if I come up with an interesting name? It certainly could be Cliff's Compost Heaven.
I decided to conduct some very unscientific testing on the dirt by adding it to the front half of the garden, the part you can see first as you walk by. Just a few weeks have passed since those handfuls of dirt were casually pitched at the plants, and you can easily see how vigorously the plants have grown. The Homestead onions (another one of Cliff's specialties) have really shot up, and I've harvested several pounds of beans already from this tiny plot.
So what about the back 40 (inches or so) of the garden that didn't receive the good dirt? The plants are puny, the leaves are yellow, and the beans are not as bountiful on this side.
The beans aren't the only lucky plants to receive Cliff's Organic Wonder Soil. This Floradale tomato in a pot--purchased at a plant sale from another plantsman, our pastor/PSC math professor--received a top dressing of the good stuff. I had already potted it in some garden variety garden soil before we got a truckload of Cliff's Miracle Mix. If it sounds like I'm thrilled with this new dirt, I am, strange as it may seem. Even an old-as-dirt gardener like me can "dig" some new soil.