Dar Helwig

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since Jul 10, 2016
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Recent posts by Dar Helwig

Thank you all for your insightful replies. That's a lot of information to ponder. I'm sure I'll be back for more.
I have lousy soil, mostly clay and sand. I want to grow potatoes and I see that some people put the potatoes in dirt and mound 8 inches to wood chips over them. I know wood chips have no nutrition. How much soil do I need to put the seed potatoes in. I'm thinking make  trench 2-3 inches deep, lay the potatoes, cover each seed with a foot wide by 3 inch deep layer of compost and then cover the whole row with 8 inches of chips. Will something like this work?
Do just the roots need good soil or do the tubers also require good soil?
I tried container planting last year and only got around 4-6 good potatoes (and a few runts) per plant.
Grew strawberries in a raised bed with good soil. Had great berries for 2 years and then squat. Started a garden. Transplanted the berries. They are doing lousy. My peas and beans never got big. Mellons seem to be doing fine and corn (my first ever) is about half and half good and bad. Heights range from 18 inches to 7 feet. This garden is in a built up back yard from the 1980s. It sits near a septic field and I think it sets on a clay berm along side of the field. I have about 3 inches of top soil. I tilled it and added about 12 wheelbarrow loads of compost to the 20x40 garden area and tilled again.
4 years ago
Is this soil test kit adequate for help to get my garden up and running?
I don't know what is required to test for.
4 years ago
I'm in S.E. Michigan. I received 2 comfrey plants that were in sad shape. I planted one which now has 8 new leaves. The other, I divided in half and planted. The halves now have 4 and six leaves. These plants were transplanted about 4 weeks ago. They didn't have a lot of root, only about 3 inches if tap root and some tangled regular roots (not sure what "regular" root are called). My question is, is it too late in the year to dig one up and start a bunch of new plants off of the tap root. I saw a video that said you can start a plant off the smallest bit of root. So I would like to cut a root into 10 pieces and plant them along my back property line away from the garden where they are now planted. Will get any growth by dividing them now? How much root do I need to use? Can they be in morning and half afternoon sun and then shade from around 3pm on? Or should I put them in pots till next spring?
5 years ago
The compost pile gets hot. My is usually 120-140 degrees and I'm trying to get it hotter. Wouldn't worms just die as fast I I can put them in? Or, after the pile gets over its initial hotness will the worms just start coming up from the ground and finish what the heat started? Also, are all worms created equal or do I need to use a specific kind of worm? I saw videos that specified "compost worms". Whats that?
5 years ago
I remember seeing a similar test for soil. If I recall it told of using different berry juices, etc, to test soil composition. If anyone knows of this I would be interested.
5 years ago
I rototilled in my mulch/compost today. Sorry, all you anti-till people. I promise that this fall I will much heavy on the surface but I was bothered by the unhealthy look of my soil. I definitely see  a difference in the texture and the color has gone from a drab gray to a more brownish color. Looks better to me for what thats worth. I applied my whole compost pile which was about 12, or so larfe wheel barrow loads to a garden of 20ft x 40ft. So I guess thats about  a wheel barrow load for each 100 sq ft. Sounds like a lok to me but it sure didn't change its looks that much. If i had more I would put it on.

When I get some good garden growth going, will this have any effect on the underlying clay? Or am I just going to have to keep adding to the surface to build up more depth?
Putting in a garden for next year. About 8 inches down the ground is hard clay. What I have rototilled is also somewhat clayee. My compost pile never finished composting so I am going to let it continue working. I have another pile of shredded and mostly non-shredded leaves from last year that are hald way broken down. They are a black mass that is quite moist. I shredded so of it and it came out looking like black dirt so I guess it was getting close to being compost. I decided to just spread the whole pile on my garden and till it in. It will add organics to the dirt and make it more able to hold water and permit drainage. My question is, since the leaves where not properly composted can they actually do harm to my soil? It seems to me that any organics added will have to be an improvement. What do you think? It will have till nest spring to decay further.
I was reading about using rabbit poop to make compost tea and it occurred to me that using manure could lead to e coli contamination of plants and vegetables. Is this a possibility or is manure ok to make tea out of? Would manure supply the same kind of bacteria as finished compost would? I think the two would create completely different concoctions.