Building Soil

Intense gardening resurrects in the fall. Maybe not as extreme as spring gardening, but still it feels intense after the last lethargic dog days of summer. For gardeners intent on improving their soil, there’s much we can do.

clover cover crop

Written on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 in Building Soil, Plants & Soils

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Nobody describes fall better than Albert Camus: “Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” He’s right. Especially this fall. The colours are intense. Sadly once the leaves drop from the trees, many of us shuffle them into recycling bags for city pickup. But recycling those leaves in our gardens can improve our soil.

fall trees

Written on Thursday, November 13, 2014 in Building Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Clay soil and no-till seem incompatible to many gardeners. But no-till farmers in the last five years have discovered a secret biological tillage weapon: forage radishes! Read on, clay soil gardeners, this could be the magic tool we need to loosen our heavy clay soil…

tillage radish

Easy to see where the hard pan is on this daikon radish. Photo courtesy of Kevin Elmy http://www.friendlyacres.sk.ca


Written on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 in Building Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

What is good soil? Many gardeners would jump in and say loam, that elusive perfect mix of clay, silt and sand. In the real world, however, our urban soil is less than perfect. What can we do to make our soil sing?

Brampton Garden

Written on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 in Building Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

“Soil is a biggie in the vegetable garden,” says Charles Hunter, Curator Instructor of Vegetable, Rose and Herb Gardens at Niagara Parks Commission Botanical Gardens & School of Horticulture. Hunter was speaking at the Toronto Master Gardener Technical Update at the Toronto Botanical Garden


Written on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 in Building Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of having Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott guest host on #GroundChat. She covered the many myths around mulch.  Many of the myths blew well-accepted mulch practices right out of the water!

Crocus

 


Written on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 in Building Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

A couple weeks ago, I gave a #GroundChat presentation on growing and gardening with clay soil. A seemingly mundane topic quickly became controversial over the suggestion to love and work with clay soil rather than focusing on amending it.

“Most attempts at changing soil are as successful as getting your chain-smoking uncle to give up cigarettes.” Owen Dell, Landscape Architect and Sustainable Landscaping pioneer 

Daylily thriving in clay soil


Written on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 in Building Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Fall is a glorious time of the year. As gardeners we don’t just appreciate the spectacular fall foliage colours we also rejoice in the sheer amount of potential leaf compost or leaf mulch. But we need to guard our transition from fall into winter. What we do today will affect our garden soil tomorrow.


Written on Thursday, October 13, 2011 in Building Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Mulching: the best gardening practice! And it’s trendy.

But mulching’s trendiness has a double edge sword. The upside is that more people are mulching. Yay! But the downside is that many of the products touting themselves as mulches are either a waste of time or money.


Written on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 in Building Soil

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Written by Cristina da Silva

Snow, love or hate it, it’s a reality for gardens zone 6 and lower. I’m in zone 5, and gardeners are almost guaranteed snow every winter. And it is a good thing (to quote Martha Stewart). Here’s my take on it…

 


Written on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 in Building Soil, Plants & Soils

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Written by Cristina da Silva