Midwest Garden Guys


SCOTT: Hey Sylvania, once again it’s Mike and Scott from Your Midwest Garden Podcast! Mike, tell us about the soil in Sylvania. Is it any different than other Midwestern soils? It is, after all, the starting point of all growing, whether grasses, flowers or veggies.

MIKE: Scott, I’m going to enlighten you and the people of Sylvania about how your soil was formed. Did you know that Sylvania soil was created by glacial movement? It sure was. And when the Ice Age began warming, the glaciers began melting and began to move. As they moved, they created large fresh water lakes. These lakes receded and left lake bed soil and beach front.
The lake bed soil left behind is made up of HEAVY bedrock, blue clay and beachfront sand. Therefore, leaving behind a unique set of extremes when it comes to the existing Sylvania soils. Some Sylvania homes have been built on clay, others on sand. Check your soils! Knowing your soil conditions will give you a head start on improving your growing conditions. Sand or clay – sand drains way too fast. Clay retains moisture way too long.
We will never be able to replace the existing soil to accommodate your growing needs. However, there are ways to improvise and create a beautiful landscape or garden. Sandy soils are perfect for maple trees, dogwoods, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, azaleas and certain perennial flowers. While heavy clay soils take a bit longer to establish hardy growth. Oak trees, (woody ornamental) hydrangeas such as Quickfire or Annabelle grow well in clay soil.

SCOTT: There are new, easy to do soil kits. We chatted about one on the podcast called “Soilkit.” Sounds like you recommend doing a test, especially for recently constructed homes?

MIKE: I do recommend that you have your soil tested, whether it is a newly constructed home or an older home. Years ago, home owners had to send their soil to extension related laboratories. These labs would return a 50-page scientific printout, that the average homeowner had difficulty understanding. Now you can go to a local garden center and purchase a much easier testing system. One example is “SoilKit,” just follow the instructions and you will have your results sent to your email. These plain English results will allow the garden center to personally work with you, applying soil amendments as needed. 

SCOTT: The basics of soil prep seem to be, add compost, adjust pH, amend with nutrients, till the soil and add mulch to top it all off. Sound about right?

MIKE: Scott, before you do ANY amending make sure to follow your soil’s test result recommendations. Using the wrong amendments wastes money and adds frustration.

SCOTT: Just like you need a good foundation for your home, soil is your plants foundation. For more on this, listen to our Season Three, Episode Two, Podcast “Loamy Soil is the Goal!” Until next time, green thumbs up!

The Midwest Garden Podcast guys, Mike O’Rourke and Scott Sandstrom, will be sharing gardening advice and information with readers throughout the growing season. O’Rourke, retired from Black Diamond Garden Center and known as the Garden Guy for many years, discusses landscape issues with Sandstrom in a casual conversation designed to educate listeners, and now readers, on a wide variety of topics.

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