Monday, February 15, 2010

Poo+Crappy Soil=Crappy Soil With Some Poo On It

The future weather forecast, though certainly not seasonal (grumble grumble), doesn't call for a deluge of rain, 40 mph winds, or snow (first time in 20 years) so it is time to put some money where my mouth has been recently complaining: crappy soil.

How do I know it's crappy soil?  Well truth be told, I don't KNOW exactly... I merely rather strongly guess.  It can rain 5 inches in 5 hours and within 24 hours the soil looks like its in cahoots with tumbleweeds.  There is also the disturbing fact that the soil just doesn't look like soil.  And finally there's the possibility that it could have spent the greater part of 5 years covered by magnolia leaves.  It bears mention that there weren't even weeds growing back there.  What would you think?

Well, I'm sure we're both right, however, we must be scientific about all this here at Chez Children of the Corm, so its time to bring out: (dum dum dah dummmm) THE VIALS OF TRUTH.  Apparently, if there's one thing I like spending money on, its gadgets and chemistry kits that will tell me what else I need to spend money on.

I followed the directions, something I am really good at doing.  It's too bad gardening isn't like cooking, where 95x out of 100 if you follow the directions you come up with something good.  Or at least edible...some wilted up dead husk with bugs all over it generally does not show up in the pan.

But, I digress.  It was time to know for sure, so I gathered my dirt, did my little chemistry magic and voila, all the secrets of my crappy soil were sort of revealed, in that 1991 home pregnancy test kit kind-of way.   I'm pretty sure I know what colors those were, however, it would have been easier if the test tube had just called me up on my cellphone and told me "Yes, your soil is crappy."

Here are the results.  The good news: my PH is pretty close to neutral.  The bad news: the soil has absolutely no appreciable level of Nitrogen or Phosphorous.  It does have some Potassium, however the test kits variation between low, medium, and high are not discernible to the naked eye so I'm not exactly sure how much potassium.  It is definitely more than very low or none though.

So, with those facts confirming my suspicions I went directly to big box store and bought my first soil amendment: cow poo.   When cow poo is put in a bag and allowed to sit for enough time it, of course, is then known as manure compost, a marketing term which is working dandy for me.   I have never lifted as heavy or unwieldy an item as a bag of manure compost after a month of rain.  Holy cow.

Now, 200 pounds of cow poo is still out there waiting in the car since yesterday, and its time to get amending.  I wonder how many years of this will have to go on before I can say, "I have loamy, nutrient rich soil?" 

And on an aside, I have to ask, where is Blotanical? This is also highly disturbing.


  1. I've just posted a post about Blotanical. I hadn't realized so many people were as addicted as I am. We could all be on that show Intervention! :D

    I bought about 5 bags of cow crap a few weeks ago. Still doesn't seem enough in my now crappy-er soil :D

  2. Great post! As a confirmed Luddite, I kind of worried about those tests, and was never courageous enough to try. Now that it seems a bit like a child's chemistry toy, I feel a little more enthusiastic.

    Also as a confirmed Luddite, I don't tweet, which is why I was annoyed to discover that the only message about Blotanical's problems came out via twitter. I passed the message along on my blog this afternoon.

    I do think I'm a bit of an addict, as Kyna suggests. ;)

  3. Oh man! I'm sure most people who read garden blogs don't tweet. You'd think if you ran a blog site you could have perhaps posted something, hmmm, on the blogsite!?

    Thanks you two for the news. I will rest easy now, and quit checking it. :)

  4. Hi Jess, I've been suffering from Blotanical withdrawal, too.

    Regarding soil tess and amendments: Do you have a nearby county extension office? Typically, you can pick up a box from them, fill it with some of your garden soil and send it in to be tested, for a very reasonable fee. What I like about these soil tests is that you not only get the results, but you get very specific advice about what you should add to your soil. In a lot of states now, you can get your soil report online, which is very handy. -Jean

  5. Great hearing from you over at Thrilled to find other Charleston garden bloggers in our little part of the world. I've added you on my bloglist and look forward to having conversations!!!!!

  6. Jean - Thanks, yes I have heard of this. My grand plan is to get the soil to April, when the garden show comes into town, and they will be doing them on the spot there! I do think though for each year thereafter I am going to go with the state testers.

    Compost - I feel the same way. For such a garden-y and friendly place, it doesn't seem that garden-y friendly, so it is definitely nice to have someone local to pass stuff by and chat with. Looking forward to keeping up with your blog.

  7. Your city,town,village may have a program for free leaf compost. The local zoo may also have a program for more exotic zoo poop compost. Good luck. jim

  8. Hi Jim, I checked on the leaf compost here...nada. And no zoo, unfort. but thanks for the thoughts my frugal minded friend, and keep them coming!