Daylilies forum: Uhmmm my garden has no rest!

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Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
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cybersix
Aug 18, 2015 8:10 AM CST
Hi everyone, today I checked every corner of the garden to see how the soil was. "Native" soil is clay, so when I planted daylilies (only in one section, the other are in full clay) I added common garden soil. One spot needed to be filled more than the others, I used a bag of garden soil.. well, that spot now is now completely waterproof. I was ignorant about anything gardening, I grabbed a bag of what the garden center sold and now I checked. There's a high % of peat. The soil get wets only on the surface, while underneath is dry powder. Water can't wet it. It looks "dead". So today I mixed it with a bit of clay where some earthworms live, mixed, watered, mixed until it looked all wet. Do you think I'd better take out that soil and use a good quality soil? Maybe from the surrounding woods? The odd thing is that in that place my black calla lily bulb became rotten and died. Confused Confused
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
Aug 18, 2015 8:27 AM CST
Amending your store soil with clay should help.

I can not grow calla lilies here successfully and I do not have clay soil. I have sandy soil.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 18, 2015 8:28 AM CST
It can be very difficult to wet peat moss when it has dried, was it damp in the bag when you purchased it and has dried out since, or was it dry to start with?

Filling individual planting holes with a material that is different from the native soil can cause problems with water movement but it's difficult to know exactly what your situation is without seeing it. Perhaps that's not what you did? I don't know that I would necessarily do any more to fix it than you already have (mixed in some clay and got it thoroughly wetted).

Perhaps the calla lily died before it rotted? It can be difficult to know which way around things happen sometimes?
Name: Valerie
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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touchofsky
Aug 18, 2015 8:30 AM CST
I once put a bale of peat into a garden bed that we had prepared, and for years that garden did very poorly. I have the opposite and have dry, sandy soil and thought the peat would help hold moisture. However, that garden never did well. I blamed the addition of the peat, but can't be sure. The other beds that were prepared the same way, other than the peat, thrived. The only difference in the beds was the one with the added peat.

It seemed that it took years for that bed to begin to do better. It has been 23 years since we added the peat, and that bed is now very nice. When we prepared the gardens, my husband "double dug", all the beds to a depth of 6 feet, so we could not easily remove the peat that we had mixed in.

I don't have clay soil, but I have read that coarse sand is good to help amend it, along with organic matter, such as compost.

[Last edited by touchofsky - Aug 18, 2015 8:32 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 18, 2015 8:50 AM CST
touchofsky said:

I don't have clay soil, but I have read that coarse sand is good to help amend it, along with organic matter, such as compost.



We have sandy loam here and I did amend with peat moss (long story but couldn't get anything else at the time) and it was OK. In addition to not incorporating it dry, though, peat moss also has little inherent fertility although it does hold added nutrients well. That's not going to cause an immediate plant demise, though.

Sand isn't recommended for amending clay because it takes too much to create the desired effect, so compost is more practical. You have to have enough sand that the sand particles touch each other and separate the clay particles, i.e. a lot. There are some kinds of clay that become worse with added sand also. That seems to be something one hears about mostly from southern areas of the USA.

Name: Valerie
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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touchofsky
Aug 18, 2015 8:53 AM CST
Yes, I wasn't sure about sand or how to amend clay, since I have never dealt with it.

Does peat raise the acidity of the soil?
[Last edited by touchofsky - Aug 18, 2015 8:54 AM (+)]
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Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
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cybersix
Aug 18, 2015 8:56 AM CST
Thanks for your replies! The peat it's there from the past year, it' a spot that rarely gets rain water (I have Always afternoon there, and never bloomed of grow bigger). So maybe it got too dry. I was going to discard all the clay soil I dug but I kept a pot of it and see if I have to add more on that spot.
All in all I guess I prefer clay to peat.. it just seems too "dead"!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
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cybersix
Aug 18, 2015 9:00 AM CST
Peat is acidic so it should lower PH.
Maybe I simply used too much peat.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 18, 2015 9:08 AM CST
touchofsky said:Yes, I wasn't sure about sand or how to amend clay, since I have never dealt with it.

Does peat raise the acidity of the soil?


Compost is generally the best thing for amending clay (gypsum is another thing that is often recommended but it doesn't help most clays, only certain kinds which are fairly uncommon). We used to have clay at our old home and the muck heap behind the horse barn did a wonderful job of improving it over the years. Clays usually have higher fertility than sand.

Whether peat moss would affect the soil pH would depend on the amount used, the pH of the peat moss, the pH of the native soil, and the texture of the native soil (its buffering capacity, which affects how much you need to use of a substance to change the natural pH - takes more material to change the pH of clay as opposed to sand). Canadian peat moss generally is more acidic than some others.

[Last edited by sooby - Aug 18, 2015 9:13 AM (+)]
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Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Aug 18, 2015 9:26 AM CST
I will use some horse manure but I don't know when, exactly.. I dont' want to move DLs again I'd like to see some flower next year. Maybe I will add some horse manure pellets in the soil without moving plants. Clay is more fertile than sand, I never had any problem until this summer but maybe along the year some nutrient tend to dilute and using alcaline tap water for watering didn't help. Adding chelated iron seems to have helped, and now we're having some rain water.
Clay is a problem when you have to dig for planting but all in all it's not that bad, it dries on the surface but under the surface humidity stays for quite some time.
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
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cybersix
Aug 18, 2015 3:36 PM CST
I was reading about peat and it seems that once that it goes dry it can't be watered anymore and it becomes waterproof. So what's the point in a garden soil with 60% peat??
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 18, 2015 5:21 PM CST
That's why I asked above "It can be very difficult to wet peat moss when it has dried, was it damp in the bag when you purchased it and has dried out since, or was it dry to start with? " I guessed from your answer that it was not dry from the bag? Often with dry peat moss products the instructions tell you to wet thoroughly before using. Once peat moss is wetted it is capable of holding a lot of water, but sometimes a product will be so dry in the bag that you have to kind of mix it bit by bit with water, kind of like mixing batter Hilarious! Some products contain a wetting agent.

By "garden soil" you mean the bagged product? The names of some of those, in North America at least, can be very misleading, but I don't think that it's necessarily a bad product based on that alone. Normally once it's wetted and mixed in with the soil, peat moss doesn't get too dry, in my experience anyway. The only place I can think of where that happens here is in a planter that has a roof overhang so gets no rain or snow during the winter months when nothing is growing in it - it takes a lot of watering to get it ready for planting again in spring.
Name: Kevin Smith
INDIANA (Zone 5b)
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kssmith
Aug 18, 2015 10:55 PM CST
I just got done this evening amending a 3' x 20' bed that had a lot of clay and some composted cow manure with about 4 cubic yards of the dry peat moss. I tilled it in very good and found it breaks up the clay quite well with deep enough tilling.
After reading this i will certainly get the bed very wet and i water the plants in the hole before and after back filling.
I have never had a problem such as described with dry peat moss but if it was simply laid on top of clay without being mixed in very well i could see where a thick enough layer could act as a water barrier. But it sounds like you got the kind that is more black dirt looking than dry. Never had that problem either as i have used that too.
I also take care to water under eves where plants may not get all the rainfall as others do out in the open. We also have nothing but clay here and yes sand does not help break up clay like dry peat does.
Don't know what you were sold but i hope you get it figured out.
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Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Aug 19, 2015 1:47 AM CST
Thanks Sue and Kevin.
I can't remember if it was dry or wet, I used the past year, the things that sound strange to me it's that the bag says that it's a "universal garden soil" that you can use by its own, in pots and in the ground. Since that only spots was empty I used that bag to fill it. But it's not good used on its own. It got dry and I don't know when, because in the hot days I watered all the garden, and in these rainy days I watered that spot only because it gets no rain, and I checked the soil and found it was a dry dark black powder under the surface. I guess I'll add some bit of clay and work it into peat. Many "garden soils" have a really high % of peat and it doesn't sound so good in my opinion. It can't be "universal" there are several different cases!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com

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