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Beginner Flowers: chilling bulbs in zone 8/amending clay soil with sand

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Forum: Beginner FlowersReplies: 5, Views: 20
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Columbus, GA

August 12, 2014
7:49 PM

Post #9916759

John Scheepers website recommends chilling Allium, Lilium, and other bulbs for planting in this hot climate. I understand the refrigerator will do and Scheepers sent back a response to my e-mail right away suggesting how many weeks each type bulb should be chilled. Questlon: Who has experience chilling alliums and liliums for this area and do you advise doing so?

Also, they suggested for growing lilies in clay soil (which is what we have in Georgia) that sand as well as peat should be used for amending. What is your experience with this? Where does one get the sand? Will any sand do?

Thanks for your help and your experience.


Middle TN
United States
(Zone 7a)

August 13, 2014
5:46 AM

Post #9916956

You can get horticultural grade sand at most garden centers.
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

August 14, 2014
1:50 PM

Post #9918026

CvilleGardener is correct where you can buy Horticultural sand for amending soil types.
Builders soil has too many chemical or unwashed sand plus bits of rubble within it to be used for garden plantings.

To amend clay soil is quite a big on-going job and can be done over a period of time, The problem with Clay soil is it is colder, stays wet and there are no nutrients held within it. it is made up of much larger sticky particles,
What plants Like and need is soil that can warm up in the spring / summer months, has freer draining smaller particles and has plenty of rich loom within it's structure.
The loom / Humus rich additive gives the soil enriching nutrients, helps break up the larger particles allowing air into the soil and it helps retain moisture BUT lets water drain away freer rather than be held within the clay.

What I would do for this year is, do as has been instructed for chilling the bulbs, while at the same time, begin to prepare your clay soil for growing bulbs and plants of different types.

To prepare your soil where you wish to plant, either a border or flower bed, it's the same type of prep work that needs done and will give your new plants the best chance to grow and bloom for many years to come.

Use the garden spade / fork, dig out the soil making a trench and try to go down to the depth of 2 spaded deep (best to lay a sheet of plastic down close to where your starting to dig) how it works is, you remove a row of soil 1 spade deep, place the soil onto the plastic, when you have dug out the 1st spade deep along the length. Next go back and dig the 2nd spade depth, Now you have removed 2nd spade deep. Drop this soil on top of the plastic sheet also.
Now add manure / humus to 1st trench, about 6-8 inches into the ditch / long trench.
Then you gig out 2 spades deep to make next / 2nd trench, and add another 6-8 inches into that trench, you keep digging 2 spades deep adding the humus or manure and throwing on top of the manured trench the soil from the next trench to be dug.
You will eventually come to the end of the bed / border and your left with a trench with no more soil, this is where you dig in the soil laying on the plastic sheet, like 1st dug out= last dug into the last trench.

Buy some Garden lime in packet from garden centre, read / use the dosage as given on box / packet, scatter this lime on the soil as well as either some small grit / gravel, Use gloves and a mask if possible for the lime use and a still day so the lime don't travel all over the garden, IT wont harm anything but why waste the lime.

Last part of prep is to use your fork, dig and mix in the added humus/manure / lime and gravel grit, as you dig mixing all together, you will find the soil is beginning to break up into smaller / finer particles, you will have to maybe dig this over a couple of times as you wont be able to get ALL the larger clumps broken up into smaller particles 1st time round, please be assured as the seasons go on, your soil structure will improve to an unbelievable fine tilth and you will enjoy gardening within this soil,
As each season goes on, you can add more humus / manure, BUT, don't over use the garden lime, The lime is a great way of helping to break up large clumps of soil which is what you have when you dig into Clay soil.

After you have dug this way for THIS year, you should be able to plant into the soil all types of plants / bulbs . shrubs etc, end of summer or spring next year.

IF your worried about NOT being able to plant your bulbs in the garden this year due to ground NOT ready, plant them into larger pots etc with good quality compost and they will be fine after they have been through there chill period.
Cant help you with chilling BULBS as here in UK we never have that problem, a coll garage or shed if all we need.

By the way, Manure is horse droppings, you should call any stables etc and ask IF they have any WELL ROTTED MANURE to let you take away FREE, they normally like to give this continual product away as they have a daily supply. this manure should NOT smell like fresh laid poo, it should be dark brown, when picked up and rubbed between thumb and fingers, it should crumble, this is like gardeners gold.

I know all this sounds like a lot of work BUT, believe me, it's well worth the effort AND you will have the best growing plants EVER !!!!!.

Hope this gives you an idea re clay soil and growing / amending this type of soil for flowers, fruit, veg etc.
Best Regards.
Opp, AL
(Zone 8b)

August 15, 2014
12:00 PM

Post #9918802

I strongly urge you to not waste time, effort, $ adding sand to clay. Sand + clay = concrete.

Your soil needs organic matter, compost. It's not necessary to till or dig it in, just put it on top. Within a year, (especially over winter, if you're able to put a nice cover of leaves,) you should notice a huge difference. By spring, your soil should be darker, more moderate regarding too much/too little moisture.

Sand has nothing to offer plants. OM *is* mother nature's fertilizer. It can be "finished" compost, any materials one would put in a compost pile from inside the house, leaves, grass from the mower bag (when you've mowed before the grass makes seeds,) pine needles, small trimmings from shrubs/trees, pulled weeds that have not made seeds yet, if it decomposes, let it do so on your garden.


Middle TN
United States
(Zone 7a)

August 15, 2014
3:24 PM

Post #9918941
Opp, AL
(Zone 8b)

August 18, 2014
6:28 AM

Post #9920723

Excellent link, Cville!

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