Monday, October 26, 2020

Getting The Soil Right For Planting


Horticulture Hotline 10/26/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Fall is for planting and transplanting. Here are a few products that will make a big difference for you. Test soil first, if possible. Amend your soil according to soil test with these additives. Wait 15 days and test soil again to be sure you have the nutrient levels where you want them. Wait 15 days to plant, if possible - not necessary.


Amend whole area not just the hole! With clay especially. I have witnessed many plants and trees where the soil was amended in a hole of clay. The clay acts like a bowl holding the water in the amended area around the roots, killing the plant or tree. With trees and shrubs do not till deeper than the root ball of the plants you are planting. Once the amendments settle you do not want your plant planted too deep.  This recipe is based on per 100 sq. ft. of planting area:

·         Turface – 200 lbs. per 100 sqft.  Turface is super-heated calcified clay.  Turface helps improve drainage and reduces compaction.  Turface will last in the soil for over 20 years.  The particle can hold its weight in water and then releases it slowly as the plant needs it.  We have used this product to correct many water issues (too wet and too dry – it is like a thermos knows whether to keep dry or wet) over the years.

·         Bolster 04-04-04 Sustane – 2.5 lbs. per 100 sqft.  This product increases fertilizer efficiency and improves soil biology.  It contains mycorrhiza spores increasing the ability for the roots absorb nutrients and water. Also contains biostimulants and iron.

·         SeaHume – 1.5 lbs. per 100 sqft. Humic acid and seaweed. Super product for establishing plants. Stimulates growth of beneficial microorganisms and root growth. Over 60 minor nutrients, carbon, amino acids, gibberellins and much, much more.  

·         Cotton Burr Compost – (4) 3 cu.ft. bags per 100 sq.ft. (sandy soil, increase to (6) bags).  Cotton Burr Compost is nature’s perfect soil conditioner.  The cotton boll (burr) is full of nutrients and will not tie up nitrogen like wood and wood-based soil amendments.  It will loosen up clay soils and add water holding capacities to sandy soils (also like a thermos!).  Cotton Burr is an excellent food source for beneficial soil organisms that help make nutrients available to plants, aerate the soil and helps keep harmful organisms and diseases in check. 

·         Nature’s Blend – (5) 1 cu.ft. bags per 100 sqft (in sand, increase to (8) bags).  This product not only contains Cotton Burrs, but also composted cattle manure, humates and alfalfa meal.  Alfalfa meal is high in nitrogen and contains Triacantanol, a natural root growth enhancer, and may help in the suppression and control of certain fungal diseases.

·         Diehard Transplant – inoculates soil with beneficial fungi, bacteria, and Trichoderma. Seaweed, humic acid, wetting agents and root promoting vitamins, and amino acids. Put Diehard Transplant in direct contact with the root system, so the mycorrhizal fungi will colonize the roots quickly.




Mix these products together and till into 6-8 inches of soil.  With clay soil, you should have 1/3 amendments and 2/3 clay.  With sandy soil, it should be ½ amendments and ½ sand. For trees and shrubs adjust depth according to root ball size.


After tilling the bed, top dress with (4) bags of Natures Blend and then (2) bags of Cotton Burr Compost. For annuals cap it off with one pound of 17-00-09. Plant annuals through this topdressed area. With this mixture, every time you water your plants are getting a “compost tea” full of nutrients.


Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.