Daylilies forum: Question about empty bed and soil

Views: 553, Replies: 18 » Jump to the end
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
Apr 26, 2016 4:50 AM CST
Hi everyone!
Since I put my seedlings back in pots I have the small bed where they were that is currently empty. It's small enough that I could think of taking out that clay soil and fill it with a better soil.

It's narrow, I can't use a big spade to dig it (it's surrounded by rocks) but it's something I'd try.
How deep should I dig? It gets narrower getting toward the bottom.
Having to choose a new soil what would you reccomend? I don't love soils with much peat. I found one without peat that looks very good (used in pot and plants are doing well), it doesn't get waterproof when dry. It has PH 6. Or should I choose something more complex?

I'm thinking of doing this without any hurry, but aiming to have a new bed ready for september, hoping that my potted seedlings will grow and put them there.
Thank You!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
Apr 26, 2016 6:41 AM CST
Don't dig out a hole in clay and then fill it with different soil. It will potentially create difficulties with water movement in the soil so could end up either too dry or too wet (called the "bath tub effect:"). Since you don't need the bed for a while, I would put a two inch layer of compost (not potting soil but composted plant material) on the top of the soil and let the earthworms etc. do the work for you. If digging it out cleans out the whole bed, and it's not going to be still surrounded by clay, then that would be different.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
Apr 26, 2016 7:22 AM CST
Digging would clean it out almost completely except for one side that would still be in contact with a portino of clay soil (it is covered with small rocks now) and except for depth which I don't really know how much is (as you may remember the garden was already made when I came here).

The problem with compost is that I don't know where to find it. It's not sold here and I can't compost in the garden. I would prefer doing so, it would be less tiring. A couple of gardener suggested to use manure and iron sulfate. It' something to do in autumn they say, but since the bed is doing nothing now I think I could do it now. Let me see if another research shows where to find compost and then I'll decide.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
Apr 26, 2016 7:34 AM CST
Two inches of manure spread on the surface could work. If the sides of the hole won't be clay then you could go ahead and dig it out, if there's no likelihood of its filling with water some other way. Then you could use potting soil to fill the hole. Iron sulfate may not help if you apply it to the soil and the soil pH is still too high. I thought you got some chelated iron previously? That should work better with your higher pH. Usually it's not a shortage of iron in the soil, it's a pH problem that prevents the plant from acquiring it. Iron sulffate applied to the soil may suffer the same fate, which is why chelated iron is used. That assumes that your chlorosis probem is from iron deficiency and not manganese. If you're replacing the soil then you may not have a chlorosis problem in that bed anyway.
[Last edited by sooby - Apr 26, 2016 7:35 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1128702 (4)
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
Apr 26, 2016 7:43 AM CST
One side would still be in contact with the total clay, in both ways . This because the bed is virtually divided in portions. One side will confine with clay soil unless I decide to dig up all the plants and ammend everything but it's something I don't want to do now. I have chelated iron but the thing the gardeners were saying was sulphate and manure together, I don't know why it should work. I still have to find some compost it seems like the holy grail!!!

I guess the deficiency is iron only because after giving the chelate the new leaves are total green.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
Apr 26, 2016 7:57 AM CST
Chelated iron is better in the garden than plain iron sulphate. Why switch to non-chelated iron sulphate if the chelated iron works and you already have it?

It's hard to say what would happen with your bed since it will still have clay on at least two sides. What is on the other side?

Compost (or rotted manure) gives clay better structure.
Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Cat Lover Daylilies Roses Lilies Irises
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Sempervivums
Image
javaMom
Apr 26, 2016 9:05 AM CST
Hi Sabrina,

When I lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia I did a little gardening too, we had a very short spring before the heat came, I always used mixed/potting soil and I wish I remember what the brand is but we had the most wonderful potting mix made in Holland, it look just like a fine black good soil..I did not remember seeing any mulch or peat moss in it... Maybe you have some great mixed/potting/garden soil there in Italy and mix it with your existing soil/clay...
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
Apr 26, 2016 9:30 AM CST
Sue, I think the advice of manure and sulphate iron was to make a better soil in the long run. It's to amend the soil before planting anything in it.

Here is a picture of the bed, as you can see on the left is not really divided, under the rocks it's a whole thing with the rest. On the right there's no soil, at least as deep as I can see, because there starts the alleyway (common to all the apartments).
Thumb of 2016-04-26/cybersix/dbc2bb
I will add manure or compost, adding organic matter seems the best way to go, I just read this article and it says to avoid peat: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/agecon/WECO/documents/NCSU.ame...

javaMom, many thanks for your advice, the potting mix I was talking about has a german/holland name maybe it's the same thing!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
Apr 26, 2016 9:45 AM CST
cybersix said:Sue, I think the advice of manure and sulphate iron was to make a better soil in the long run. It's to amend the soil before planting anything in it.


Looking at the bed, why not raise the level with potting mix, or dig potting mix or a little manure, not too much manure, into the soil that is there and raise the level? It already looks as if most of the sides are in place to raise the bed.

Sorry but switching to iron sulphate doesn't make any sense when you've already got iron chelate. Manure won't necessarily lower your soil pH, but adding iron chelate adds usable iron to the mixture if it still needs it. If the pH is high then iron sulphate can get "tied up" just the same as the iron already in the soil is. Yes manure can improve the soil, but switching the type of iron for something less useful I just don't get.

Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
Apr 26, 2016 9:55 AM CST
I can raise the level but only to a certain extent, the left side has no barrier.
I will let out the sulphate. I will add manure and then potting mix. I can dig out a couple of inch and then fill until it can hold.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
Image
CaliFlowers
Apr 26, 2016 11:50 AM CST
Sabrina,

Why does the bed get narrower as you dig deeper? I understand that there are some foundation elements along one side, but what's on the other?

Is it a trough formed by bedrock or concrete? How deep have you dug?

A good soil contains a mix of sand and clay particles, plus about 10% organic matter. I'd stick with what you have, just continue to amend it as you go. Your other daylilies seem to be growing very well in it. Don't make any drastic changes to your growing bed just because a few tiny seedlings didn't handle transplanting very well.

An in-ground bed consisting of bagged potting mix can be very hard to manage. It may not hold water or nutrients as well as the native soil, it may not have the same capacity to release those nutrients to the plants, and won't come close to providing the buffering that "real" dirt does. In other words, pH, moisture and nutrient levels may fluctuate widely. Also, because potting mixes are largely organic matter, it will decay and shrink every season, eventually turning into a finely-textured muck. It's not generally good to have a lot of organic matter buried too deeply, as it tends to pack and anaerobically decompose.

As Sue mentioned, during periods of heavy rainfall, runoff from all of the surrounding clay will run into and flood the potting soil "cistern". Also, at the bottom and sides of that cistern will be a clay/potting mix interface which will be resistant to percolation. In your case, the underlying concrete and rock around the bed will make it worse.

Before chelates were popular, many (most?) iron supplements were in the form of iron sulfate. I think that the idea was to not only supply extra iron, but to attempt to correct any high pH condition which might be making the iron unavailable.

The sulfate acidification process requires microbial action, which is probably why it was recommended as a long-term solution.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
Apr 26, 2016 12:30 PM CST
Good point, Ken, I wasn't thinking of it from that point of view, I usually suggest sulfur for that purpose. Yes you can use ferrous (iron) sulphate to lower the soil pH but it is fast acting and takes quite a bit of product, as well as can cause plant damage if one isn't careful. Quoting from a Michigan State University page on lowering soil pH for blueberries:

"Ferrous sulfate also decreases soil pH, but it is more costly to use than sulfur. Eight
times more ferrous sulfate is needed than elemental sulfur. The ferrous sulfate reaction is
quicker, since this salt disassociates into iron and sulfuric acid. The iron binds to the clay or
precipitates out of the soil solution leaving the sulfuric acid. "

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Lowering_Soil_pH_with_...



Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
Apr 26, 2016 1:50 PM CST
Ken, I'm not sure about the bed getting narrower and how much narrower, it happens that I can't really use the spots along borders because of concrete (I guess concrete was poured to create the trough, then filled with the leftover of the buildings and some soil).
I didn't dug really deep, let's say about 50 cm, because it's too hard to dig. The deeper the harder. The spade (a small spade because the trough is not that large) bent the last time I tried to dig big holes for planting. When the soil is dry it's like a rock but deep down is always wet and it has crete consistency, I could make a lot of pottery with it. In another spot of the garden, in an another trough, some roots are going up instead of down. I guess that's because they don't have room for doing it.

The adult DLs did well for the firts two year, starting the third (the past, currently) they started to show iron deficiency. Poor flowering. But I cant' amend in between them. So for this empty bed I'd like to have a better soil, with all the limits I know are there. At least something I can work better and that lets plants take all the elements they need to survive.

You are right, nothing beats real "dirt", so I will try to amend it with manure or compost. If I could just make a layer of it and let it be it would be great, less work for me and happy plants when time will come. I know I say many wrong things because of my ignorance, so I'm happy to read all your good advices. Just take me by the hand and show me! If sulfur it's better than iron and it costs less well, that's what I will use. Or maybe it's not necessary using manure or compost? Thank You!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
Apr 28, 2016 1:03 AM CST
Well, found well composted manure. I also got myself a little hoe (is this correct?).
I am ready to go.

The question is: should I just make a layer of manure on top of that bed and let it be, or should I use the hoe after spreading it on surface?
Earthworms are really close to surface, it rained a lot and they are everywhere so I don't want to kill them.

Should I do this with wet or dry soil? many thanks!!!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
Image
CaliFlowers
Apr 29, 2016 3:20 PM CST
Is it a pure manure, or a mixed general compost that contains other organic matter along with the manure?

I'd spread it as a mulch for now, maybe about 25-35 mm thick. That's for your established plantings.

Some people prefer to not mulch right up to the bases of the fans, but for me, that would depend on how deep the crowns are. If they're shallow, I don't see a problem with applying it uniformly everywhere. Re-apply as necessary throughout the summer, and if you want to, in the fall you can turn it in lightly, then apply a little more as a top-dressing.

It's tempting to want to dig and till, but the idea is to disturb the soil as little as possible in order to allow it to re-establish a natural structure. The mulch will provide a comfortable, moist environment for worms, etc. encouraging them to populate the upper levels of the soil. They'll consume and slowly move the organic matter throughout the root zone. Their action will keep the soil open and porous.
Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
Image
CaliFlowers
Apr 29, 2016 3:32 PM CST
In your new bed, don't dig more than about 15-20 cm. You don't want to go really deep and mix the underlying heavy clay with what little topsoil you have. Add about an inch of the manure, and an inch of your planting mix, dig again to mix it all well, and plant. If you ever do dig a bed really deep for some reason, try to keep the soils from various depths separate, so that they can go back in roughly the same order. Generally you can easily see the changes in color and texture as you dig.

Did you have other plants intended for this new area, or just the seedlings? If it's just seedlings, after watering them in, they won't require mulch until they get a little larger. You don't want to smother them. If you're transplanting larger fans, then plant, water in, and mulch as normal.

Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
May 1, 2016 10:22 AM CST
Ken, the manure is composted manure and vegetable fibers. I added it to the empty bed, after breaking the surface the best I could with the hoe. I didn't took out the original soil. I plan to let it there for some time, giving time to the seedlings to grow a bit more in the pots (if they can survive, they are not great looking, I see signs of rot on leaves, that's one thing I can understand now). I have othertwo bags of this manure and I could use it for mulch as you say. The crowns seem to keep in going down, often I move some soil around them because it seems they slowly sink.

I also bought some fine pine bark, I can't find pine needles, I thought of using the bark as mulch. Is it better using manure or bark?
Thank You!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
Image
CaliFlowers
May 3, 2016 5:48 AM CST
Fine materials will tend to pack down and form a water-repellent crust, whereas the bark will not, so depending on the texture of your manure mix, you might want to scratch the manure in shallowly, (just enough to remove the soil/manure interface), then top with enough bark so that you can't see what's underneath. That is only for established plants, I wouldn't till-in raw bark as a soil amendment, but after a summer of exposure, it could be raked up and mixed with a little more manure for use as an amendment.

If the crowns are pulling themselves deeper, that's normal, daylilies tend to do that. It means your soil has a decent structure, or that you might have put a lot of organic matter in the bed at planting time, and it's breaking down. They should stop pulling themselves deeper at some point. (In hard soils, the crowns in big, older clumps can end up sitting above the soil.) Instead of adding native soil to compensate, use it as an opportunity to add more mulch, since it will be "lighter" and will also feed the soil. Burying the crowns too deep with dirt might decrease flowering eventually.

Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
May 4, 2016 7:19 AM CST
Many thanks again Ken. I think I should remove some of the top soil then add mulch, just to not have crowns too deep. I see what you say about big clumps sitting above the soil with Stella and Little Show Stopper (the biggest clumps I have). But all the others seems always too deep in the ground.

The empty bed will be not in use until autumn I think, if the seedlings grow (a couple of them show signs of new growth) enough they will go in that place hoping they will be big enough for winter.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Daylilies forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by Whitebeard and is called "variegated impatiens"