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Mistakes and surprises in your garden?

10 years ago

If I can save one person from making the same mistakes like I did, then it's worth it. In college my major was Computer Science, minor in chemistry. I made plenty of mistakes with my experiments for the past years.

1) Mix 1/2 fresh horse manure with 1/2 clay. Brown-spots salt-burns on leaves. Spent the day replacing dirt of the entire rose bed.

2) Saw mushrooms in the new horse manure. Mulched a few roses with that. They broke out in black spots and rust. Test the pH of the new manure/bedding to be acidic, rather than very alkaline like last year. The stable stops liming their stall, uses wet straw rather than wood chips (with mold-retardant).

3) Got lazy in fixing my pH 8 tap water with a bit of gypsum via buckets. So I dumped 1/2 cup gypsum around a few bushes. Too much calcium sulfate (gypsum) zapped soil bacteria, fried the leaves with 17% sulfur in gypsum ... roses came down with BS and rust. Also too much calcium drives down potassium. Potassium is essential for disease-prevention.

4) Got lazy in mixing high-phosphorus NPK 0-52-34 with water. Dumped that on top of W.S. 2000 rose. It crystallized and made my hard clay into concrete. Leaves and blooms got smaller with high Phosphorus.

Checked with U. of Extensions and found high phosphorus binds up with soil elements, little is available. I had to add vinegar to dissolve P in a bucket, and still found crystals stuck at the bucket's bottom. Chemical phosphorus can crystallize roots, and prevent mycorrhiza fungi from extracting phosphorus from soil.

Neither bone meal nor rock phosphate can be used at pH above 7, according to U. of Colorado. I tested bone meal by dumping on top of geraniums. Leaves turned brown, then they died.

5) Biggest surprise was how many blooms I got on Evelyn with soluble whole-grain corn meal, and how shiny the leaves are.

6) Potassium chloride, or muriate of potash is used to soften hard-water, salt index of 116.2. I tested it by dumping potassium chloride on top ... browning of petals, made pale blooms ugly. I re-test again, but at the end of flowering, along with gypsum. Fast repeat with Pink Peace rose, many big blooms. See picture below:

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 10:42

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