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outside planting... drainage problems

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by tstockdale on June 16, 2006 07:02 PM
I have bad clay problems in my area and have some planting to do really soon. What is a good mixture for outside planting? Some of what I have been using has awful drainage. I'm probably adding too much peat moss [Frown]
Does 1 part peat moss, 1 part manure compost, somewhere from 1-2 parts of the original clay-filled soil, and a bit of perlite or vermiculite sound like an okay mix for outside planting that will provide good drainage? I'm open to suggestions!

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Matthew 7:21
by Longy on June 17, 2006 08:10 AM
I'm guessing you're talking about planting in the ground, not in pots right!
You really need to break up a clay soil, adding the stuff you suggest will help, though peat moss is a non-renewable resource and i don't know if it will help much anyway. The compost is a good start. More is definitely better. You can also get bags of gypsum to apply to clay soils to help break it up.

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The secret is the soil.
by plantingnewb on June 19, 2006 05:03 PM
I had bad soil also and didn't want to waste time and money experimenting, so I went to a local nursery. I told them my problem and they gave me a soil conditioning recipe. I bought all the products(enough for 100 sq. ft.)for $35.00.
They say they have been using the recipe since 1992.
I just did it this weekend, so I haven't planted in it yet.
Let me know if you want the recipe.
It's only 5 ingredients.
by netwiz on June 20, 2006 02:16 AM
Hi Tammy,

I would love the recipe if you wouldn't mind. I just started prepping a few flower beds for amending and have no idea what to mix into the soil. Thanks!!

by plantingnewb on June 20, 2006 04:49 PM
A nursery named Green Bay Nursery gave me this.

3.8 cf Peat Moss ( 1 big bag )
4 lbs garden fertilizer
1 bag cottonseed hulls
4 lbs soil sulfer
2 bags cocoa bean mulch

I didn't realize that there wasn't amounts listed for the cotton seed & cocoa bean mulch on my recipe sheet.
Both were pretty big bags that I bought. I will try to call tomorrow & check exact amounts.
Blend into soil so the top 8 in. are mixed.
After planting, apply root stimulator at 3.5 Tbs per gal. of water.
It also says you should notice mold growth soon after. This is good.
I just did this over the weekend, so I haven't noticed any mold yet.
I sure hope this works for me.
I keep checking for worms. None yet. [lala]
I'll keep you posted if it works for me.
by netwiz on June 21, 2006 01:47 AM
Thanks Tammy! Did they say how long the mold should grow? I've never heard of some of this stuff, I'll have to run out and see if I can find it. Thanks again.... I've been stressing over the whole clay thing.

by netwiz on June 21, 2006 04:08 AM
Wow, I just found out from a neighbor that we have a Master Gardner Hotline in our county! I called right away and they told me to have my soil tested before using the recipe. The only real concern seemed to be the sulfur and how much, if any, I might need to use.

I plan to use everything but the sulfur for now and was wondering if the garden fertilizer was just aged manure? Hopefully I can get something planted by the weekend!

by plantingnewb on June 21, 2006 02:46 PM
I don't have the bags of stuff anymore to let you know what it all was.
I have the recipe sheet that they gave me, which shows a picture of what each product(or the package that it is sold in)looks like.
The garden fertilizer package says "Hi Yield garden fertilizer" "Ideal Tomato Food"
I can find out from the nursery.
As far as the mold...It just says soon after conditioning. I can ask about that also.
I hope this works, I would hate to ruin anyones soil, but I can't imagine a nursery telling me to do it if it didn't work.
Anyways, I don't think it will hurt my soil.
Hope this helps [Wink]
by netwiz on June 21, 2006 09:53 PM
Thanks Tammy, I'll look for the hi yield stuff. I agree that the nursery wouldn't give you a recipe that might harm your soil. The Master Gardener loved the idea of using the cottonseed hulls and cocoa bean mulch, saying they both will help with initial drainage and add lots of good nutrients to the soil as they break down. I appreciate you sharing!!

by plantingnewb on June 22, 2006 03:57 PM

I hope to plant in my new flower bed this weekend, but I'm having a hard time deciding what to plant.
The area is mostly shade, a little a.m. sun. [Razz]
new area
I really want something that flowers, but with no sun the choices are limited.
I have rhodies in another shady area & they are doing good.
last years project
Good luck with your beds.
Keep me informed on how the recipe works for you.
by netwiz on June 23, 2006 03:57 AM

I love your flower bed! I hadn't considered using that type of edging for the beds... it really gives it a finished look.

I have the same shade issue in many areas of my property. I've been collecting names of plants that do well in shade but haven't tried any out yet. Let me know if you would like the list although many of the plants came from info on this site. I do know that the clematis Mrs. Cholmondeley does well in a shady spot at my neighbors. The flowers were as big as dinner plates!! It would look fabulous growing on your railing.

Post a picture when your done, I'd love to see what you choose and how it comes out.


P.S. I finally located all of the ingredients and hope to have some flowers planted this weekend.
by plantingnewb on June 26, 2006 05:12 PM
So this is what we bought.
2 Berginia plants
3 Helleborus
2 Boxwood shrubs
1 Burning bush
1 Euonymus
Not exactly what I had wanted, I was hoping for more flowering action, but my other half(Jerry) wanted something that would stay green(or not look dead) in the winter.
Who really cares about the winter? [Razz]
Everything else looks dead.
Oh well, the first two flower and maybe I will plant some annuals as border. I have been thinking about doing a vine, funny that you would say that.
Would it climb a thick railing?
I just don't know how I would do it.
On every other railing or just a couple?
Would it grow in full shade?
Any advice?

Did you end up planting this weekend?
by netwiz on June 26, 2006 09:15 PM
I have to agree with your other half about having some evergreen in the winter. It made a big difference in the look and feel here last winter.

I've been thinking about getting a few Helleborus and look forward to seeing how it looks in your shade bed. I have the gold variegated Euonymus and enjoy the splash of color it gives. I did notice that it started spreading but it seems to be slow growing so not really invasive..

The clematis Mrs. Cholmondeley seems to do great with a little morning sun. I bought one this year and it is growing like crazy... even has a bud already! It gets about 2 hours of morning sun and full shade the rest of the day. They grow 8 to 10 feet so one or two vines would cover your railing just fine. You do have to train it but it doesn't seem too hard. I don't think your railing would be a problem although someone with more experience might want to chime in. Check out and for some really good info.

Good luck and keep us updated!
by netwiz on June 26, 2006 09:17 PM
P.S. Forgot to mention... we had rain most of the weekend so I didn't get a chance to do any planting. I'm really itching to get some flowers in!

by plantingnewb on June 28, 2006 03:22 PM
I did see the gold Euonymus, but we ended up getting the white and green variegated.
I do have two clematis, I believe they are Jackmani Superba in my back yard.
Thanks for the links.
Last night we planted everything, well not every thing. I might still add some impatients for color. I'm not sure yet.
I am still trying to decide on the clematis too.
I'll post a pic soon.
by buzylady on July 02, 2006 02:34 PM
Depending on how much morning sun your new bed gets, How about a hardy geranium. I have them in my front yard. It gets about four hours of morning sun. Or a bleedng heart.

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buzz buzz buzz  -
by netwiz on July 03, 2006 10:48 AM
Hi Buzylady,

Will hardy geranium do well in the hot afternoon sun? I have a bed that gets sun from about 2 pm to sunset and would like to include cranesbill geranium if possible.

by buzylady on July 04, 2006 06:16 AM
I'm not sure about afternoon sun. It is listed as part shade. I have planted some 2 wks ago that will get late afternoon sun. I'll see how they do there. The nes I have in front get mornng sun and they seem to do alright, though I'm thinking they are reaching for more. They are rather xpensive here. I found someone on ebay who had 10 and my bid of $10.00 won. They run that much for one here.
Try it and see

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buzz buzz buzz  -
by slredmond on July 17, 2006 01:45 AM
Tammy those beds look beautiful! Such pretty edging. I'm always trying to figure out what to use!


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Sandy R.
by patches1414 on July 27, 2006 07:04 PM
Joanne and everyone else, I just want to offer a word of caution here regarding the soil recipe and the Cocoa Bean mulch.

The ASPCA issued a News Alert cautioning against using Cocoa Bean Mulch in your garden because it can attract dogs and cats that may be poisoned by eating it. [Eek!] Since it smells like chocolate dogs are especially attracted to it. Cocoa Bean mulch contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs and cats. Symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea to tremors, seizures and death. You can also check this out at or many other places on the internet.

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"Lord, I love you and I need you, come into my heart, and bless me, my family, my home, and my friends, in Jesus' name. Amen!"
by netwiz on July 28, 2006 04:28 AM
Hi Patches,

Thank you for the heads up. Beachlover also warned me in another post. I'm keeping an eye out to make sure my pets are not going near the bed that was amended. We are looking for an inexpensive wire fence to keep them out until the cocoa bean mulch breaks down. I had no idea there was any danger and really appreciate the information.

by patches1414 on July 28, 2006 08:47 AM
You're welcome, Joanne! [Wink] I was glad to pass the information on to everyone. I think they should have a warning on the mulch since so many people have pets. [Frown]

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"Lord, I love you and I need you, come into my heart, and bless me, my family, my home, and my friends, in Jesus' name. Amen!"

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