• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Started my first garden, and a possible problem too...  RSS feed

 
                            
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everyone!  I finally got my garden going in the front yard!!! YAY!!!

It is a fairly large area, perhaps 15-20' long and 10-15' wide.  There is more room for expanding this to about 20-25' wide.  In the middle is a stump of a tree that died and was torn down by the city a year ago.  This area has been sitting, with garbage, etc. looking ugly all this time.  Well my parents gave me the area to work on and now I'm in the middle of beautifying the area.

First I dug out almost all the roots in the area.  Eventually I gave up and a friend who's helping me said why not leave the roots in.  So that's what we've done.  I hope to find information from a more knowledgeable source, perhaps here, whether we should take those roots out.

Anyway, we acquired enough cardboard to lay out over the clover and weeds.  We then cut holes in it with knives and placed our brand new soil over top that.  We then sprinkled inoculated Crimson Clover, Fava Beans and Winter Peas over the area and then tried raking it into the soil.  It was dark by the time this was finished and we decided I should come out in the morning to see if the seeds were indeed out of sight.

This morning I discovered that they were NOT covered and opened my last bale of soil.  I sprinkled it on about a 1/2-1" thick and watered it down.

Now it's sitting, ready to grow... theoretically.  Assuming the raccoons, cats, etc don't come knockin' on my door...  So far it has been untouched.

The problem I found was a white fungus or mold or something growing in the 6" thick layer of decaying matter under the tree next to the spot I'm growing in.  This stuff appears like it may be eating away at the roots of grass, etc. in the area and possibly killing it.  At least, the roots we found were covered in the white stuff and nothing was growing in the ~2' square area.  However, it's growing in a really loose decaying matter of what could be, but probably isn't "Eastern Red Cedar."  I can't find any good pics online for what this tree is exactly, but it doesn't have needles.  It has branches with tiny  off-shoots reaching the ends.

I'll try getting out in the garden to take some pics of both the white stuff and the tree itself.

Unfortunately the white stuff is within 2-3' of my gardening area...  I talked to my local Hydroponics store regarding this stuff, and it wasn't what he thought it would be.  He thought it would be like a dust that blows around.  However it's more of a very thin layer of plastic covering decaying matter.  It doesn't appear to rub off terribly easily and is growing to about 8" deep.  It doesn't appear to spread through the soil, however I found it on some of the roots a ways away from the main patch in the soil.  It appears to spread via root structures.

Again, I'll try to get some pics... Hydroponics guy told me to dig it up and dispose of it because the likelihood of it being bad outweighs it's possibility of being good.

Thanks for any help and responses!
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
your white stuff sounds like fungus in a pile of decaying wood, to me.  what does it smell like?  chances are good that it won't hurt anything and is actually building soil.  fortunately, there aren't many organisms that indiscriminately kill any plant they come into contact with.  the few that do generally walk on two legs.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
can't remember your zone but if you just had a snow melt, it could be snow mold, we have a lot of that around here..it is a white mold that grows under the snow..and is revealed when the snow melts..a rake will take care of it.

my hubby is highly allergic to it.

i haven't gotten much done yet this year but did move some raspberries and got a packet of mixed salad greens in..had to get a start even though it is way cold and wet here yet.

glad you are getting a go at it
 
Ardilla Esch
pollinator
Posts: 229
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It sounds like actinomycetes to me, which generally aren't a problem.  In fact, most are beneficial to the soil and plants.  Actinomycetes are often found on the roots of grasses - and help provide nutrients to the grass as they decompose the dead roots.  Roots are continuously dying and regenerating.
 
                            
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, I have a pic!


Thanks for all the replies so far!  Thus far anyone who has seen this hasn't had any idea what it may be.  I was on the edge of tearing all this stuff out, but I'm giving it some time until I figure out exactly what this is!

On another note, the crimson clover is already sprouting!!!  I only planted it about 36 hours ago and the ones I pushed a little into the ground had the tails of plants coming out!  There was even a fava bean which appeared to be starting its process!!!  All the rest of the Fava hadn't done anything yet though.

Night before last, so about 30 hours ago, I took a rubbermaid and a 40w CF from a planted fish tank I used to run and put some seeds in starter cubes.  Within 20 hours I saw the Crimson Clover sprouting!!  I'm SOOO excited!  I *love* watching plants grow.  Thus far any of the other plants haven't started.  I took some of the stuff I expect will be harder to grow; basil, blue morning glory, lavender, etc.  and placed it in the starter cubes as well and nothing from there appears to be growing yet.  I certainly did not expect to see any growth for at least 3 or 4 days anyway.  Heck, I didn't expect to see anything actually happen for a week or two, like the packages of seeds said...

Heck, some of the seeds that fell onto my front stairs has started sprouting on the stairs themselves!  I'll be transplanting these elsewhere soon.

I'm unsure what my hardiness region is.  The map I am provided by the government isn't very detailed about my particular area.  From what I gather, it's around a 6b to 8a/b.  I wish my government would get on their plans for upgrading this info...  I guess I'll have to be one of the contributors to the changing system.  From what I gather, it may be a 7a/b in the lower elevated areas, but because I'm a few hundred feet higher, on top of a hill, I'd say I'm closer to the 6b mark.  That's from an uneducated guess.  I plan on visiting a local nursery soon to ask them what they think my area is.
 
Ardilla Esch
pollinator
Posts: 229
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It looks like actinomycetes to me, but it can be hard to differentiate from some fungus.  Look at the bottom photo in this link (actinomycetes in compost): 

http://www.the-compost-gardener.com/actinomycetes.html

I often see clumps of grass with roots that look similar.  Notice in your photo how the grass looks green and healthy and is covered in the stuff.  That is a good sign.  You probably have such a dense colony because of the organic matter in the soil and it is taking care of the dead plant matter.  Many plants thrive with the bacteria on their roots, and many people inocculate plants to aid their growth.  Usually inocculation is not necessary because healthy soil already contains the bacteria.

Actinomycetes are the bacteria that give healthy soil is characteristic smell.  They also provide plants nutrients and many produce antibiotics that benefit plants.

Needless to say ,I strongly disaggree with your hydroponics guy - and don't think you should get rid of it.  He may know hydroponics, but he may not know much about living, healthy soil.  If it really disturbs you to look at, till the soil - it won't come back with that density for quite a while after being tilled.

 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd believe actinomycetes... either way, looks like decomposition to me...
Even if you don't know your USDA climate zone, give you location and folks can figure out your climate... and also rainfall pattern which is probably as important as winter low temperature.

Congratulations!  Enjoy!
 
                            
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you for your great responses!

Alright, so I looked again at the Canadian government's maps on plant hardiness and found that I'm either a 7a or 7b.  I live on top of a steep-ish hill with a lake below me, perhaps 1km away.  The winters here last a lot longer than others nearby because of the large trees and steep incline.  Currently we're still frosting when areas nearer to the coast haven't frosted in weeks.

Unfortunately I think that may be trouble for my new garden, whom is sprouting, very slowly despite natures current wrath on it.

I am trying to more fully understand my situation by reading various books I have recently purchased.  These include Bill Mollison's "Permaculture: A Designer's handbook," "Introduction to Permaculture," "Harvesting Rainwater," and "Companion Growing in New Zealand and Australia."  I am in *love* with all of Mollison's work.  I find his very subtle humor quite hilarious at times--though I have found others don't quite get the humour I see in it.  Perhaps that's the difference between Untalkative Bunny/Mr Hulot and Mr Bean.

Anyway, from what I understand on a very basic level, the dirt I'm working with is a clay loam of sorts.  I don't detect a lot of sand, and I may have to add some at some point to keep the drainage in check with all the clay in the ground.  I have yet to dig very deep into the ground to figure out how deep the soil goes before I run into clay deposits.

Fortunately, the clay clumps together but easily crumbles apart and is a very rich, deep dark brown with slight hues of red.  There are a LOT of earthworms.  In other sections of the yard, there are a lot of centipedes.  I have yet to research their possible uses/issues.

There are a plethora of plans and even more challenges to overcome.  I have started to measure out the yard and am starting to get a general idea of where things may end up going.

I'll soon have more posts in regards to what is actually being done in the yard.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
you are two zones warmer than i am or more..i'm between 4 and 5..depending on where you are on my property.

we also have clay..but ours is a grey clay rather than red or brown..and it goes to china.

we also have a red hardpan in some areas that has to be dug through to plant..

glad you have your garden started, mine is still too cold here
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The aspect of your side of the hill (south vs. north) may very strongly affect how much heat and sun you get...
 
                            
Posts: 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Winters last a very long time.  Often times, we attain a small snow fall and the sun never hits our lot, so the snow lasts weeks longer than others.  However in the summer, we often get 4-6 hours of sun on the yard... if it doesn't rain for months on end.
 
Do you pee on your compost? Does this tiny ad?
Learn, Design, Teach, & Inspire with Permaculture games.
FoodForestCardGame.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!