Well, I've been having some epic dirt disasters--
Got 12 yards of what was supposed to be 'sandy loam' that turned out to be silt, fine sand, and gravel dumped in 8 beds--add water and it turned into pudding that doesn't drain, dried by evaporation into concrete--yikes! Jury convicted that crap, cannot grow anything in that.
Major pita to extract as much of it as possible out of the beds...got that done with help. Got another 12 yards of light and fluffy silt-counteraction material all spread into 8 beds--add water and the weed seeds are sprouting like mad
woe is me!
anyway--can't recommend any of that
The one thing that I wanted to mention is that I have killed more than a few plants by giving them very well drained, gritty, lean and mean places to live because that's what everybody says they need...and then unintentionally desiccating them to death.
What I didn't understand is that when they are planted that way, they also need a heck of a lot more water than I can consistently provide.
I finally figured out that the 'proper soil mix' is not necessarily the best thing for me to do here
because we really don't have much in the way of water to deal with. And by that I mean our average annual 'rainfall' is somewhere ranging from 13-22 inches per year and the majority of that is actually snowfall in the winter--not rain--which doesn't qualify as water either, until it actually melts.
So really, barring irrigation disasters, the only time it is ever soggy around here is occasionally, in the early spring --if
we have accumulated any winter snow to melt and we get some heavy spring snow, sleet, and/or rain--otherwise, it's generally pretty dry in these parts.
By way of example, some of you may recall my big ole spalling shale
Well, I used to have this
growing in the side of the thing, for a couple of years. I had such great visions for how that was going to carry on and expand and be really cool...
Then, following a normal (dry) summer, we had a really dry winter (puff-dry). I failed to water my rock. It died. Not the rock, the plant.
The semp up top was really desiccated too, but it had more of a root run thru the rock plus all of its dead and dried up former buddies to consume, so it managed a comeback, with some much needed moisture.
When I replanted that side crack, I packed the thing with clay, because at that point I had come to the conclusion that it was worth a try.
I put four chicks of this one in there
That'd be the four bigger ones you see here in the first pic taken October 2015
and just for grins, here's that poor tortured semp on 4 Sept. 2018
Still there, and I've removed many dangling chicks from there to torture in other experiments even though you can't really tell
Anyway, the point is, I was tired of killing plants with sharp drainage and inadequate water, so I've been conducting a lot of experiments with semps and other plants, in the ground, raised beds, regular containers, and unconventional containers.
What I can tell you all is that the drainage they demand is directly proportional to the water they receive that needs to drain away
And the corollary, planted in free draining, non-retentive media, in the high desert...they die without supplemental watering!
This is grown in another crack packed with clay
This one is planted in grit, but, there is no drain hole in that geode--just canted so some water can run out the lower edge. This was summer 2016
Freaky, yes, but it works--
Still working this summer
These are growing vertically out of sphagnum and some very perlite-y potting mix behind it. I have to water them frequently (EOD) in the summer. In the winter, I shovel snow on them when we have it and water them when we don't.
This was August, they've been in this 'container' for several years, before I started playing around with the rules...
These are growing in riverbottom sand and gravel on top of the native clay hill
They seem happy enough, but, I do have to be careful not to over-irrigate them in the summer...
So at this point, I don't have the perfect go-to semp mix.
I've just recently relocated a bunch into the new areas with the new weed-seed packed silt-counteraction mix
and they are doing very well so far...time will tell...