Preparing the soil for planting

“In preparing the soil for planting, you will need several tools. Dynamite would be a beautiful thing to use, but it would have a tendency to get the dirt into the front-hall and track up the stairs.” Robert Benchley (1889-1945).

Like houses, it’s not a good idea to run about willy nilly re-furbishing old gardens. It’s better to at least give the garden a chance to show you what it can do already, so I’ve been trying to resist using Benchley’s dynamite until sometime next year. That said, I already have a new garden, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. (I also have several large, dead trees, including one strangled by ivy, that need to come down before they fall down.  Maybe later this spring.)

We’re just about through with building our native rock retaining wall. (What’s that? I haven’t shown you my new rock wall? That’s because it’s so massively amazing that I haven’t figured out how to present it. Like the Grand Canyon, pictures fail.) As the new wall is several feet in from the retaining wall that runs along our property line, I have some new garden space emerging between the two walls. I’m thinking about focusing on native plants. One of the books I got from the library when my car exercised its magnetic attraction for accidents was Bringing Nature Home by Tallamy. I also checked out Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens.

Tallamy’s thesis is that we need to use native plants to keep our native insects from dying off, right now. Too many insects refuse to eat alien plants, and when insects die, birds die … right on up the food chain or net or pyramid or whatever.  Armitage, on the other hand, identifies native plants with something to offer the gardener. Primarily a laundry list of good plants which happen to be natives, he identify their features, and gives a bit of plant etymology with each one. (And regular readers know how I love etymology.)

I’ve done some web surfing, and determined Arkansas is short on native plant sellers, but Missouri has a bunch. I’ve found one who will sell assortments, and found an assortment that I think will work for my new rock wall garden so as soon as the rock wall is done, I’ll order them.  (The rock wall has run into snow and rain issues, so it may take a while for our crew to finish it off.  It’s probably 98% right now.)

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One Response to “Preparing the soil for planting”

  1. GrandHolly says:

    You did show some of the beginning wall work:
    “Our retaining wall (south of the house)”
    Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

    You can always fill the garden with annuals this year while you think about what will look right, or while the tiny perennials are growing to a visible size.

    Which reminds me of the very good quality assurance guy in a factory I ran production experiments in. He was setting up some particle size categories (for particles in clear polyester film). He named one category “almost visible particles.” He got ragged on over that!

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