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Re: Organic Mix for Hostas?

  • Subject: Re: Organic Mix for Hostas?
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 09:47:30 -0400

Hi Bobby,
      One thing you have to understand is that will be a temporary solution.
With organic material and little mineral content, the plants should grow OK,
but it isn't a permanent way to plant. Organic material breaks down over
time, so each year the soil level will drop. In time the hostas will be more
or less just sitting on top of the old soil if you don't keep adding
material. I would say 4-6 years. During this time the tree roots will come
up into the organic material too, since they colonize whatever is available.
If you build a bed this way, you will be working on it again soon. There is
also a risk of smothering the roots of the trees and killing or severely
injuring them. This approach will work fine in the short term, but will
involve more work down the road.
      To keep from having this "disappearing" soil problem, you need to have
enough mineral content to maintain the level of soil you want. Organic
material is great for growing plants, but is temporary and decomposes. Think
of it this way - If you scoop out a two-foot deep hole and dispose of the
soil then fill it with purely organic material over the next few years the
organic material will gradually decompose and you will just have an empty
hole. If you were planting in the ground, you should amend the soil you dig
however you wish, but do not dispose of the mineral material. That way the
soil level will remain the same once the organic material is gone. The same
applies to raised beds.
       Raised beds are one way to deal with tree roots, but you should know
that the roots will just "move" to the new soil in a few years and you will
have the same tree root problem then. If the roots are really bad from
maples or other really bad trees, consider either removing the bad trees or
looking into tree bag material treated with Spinout to keep roots from
penetrating. Building raised beds with the hostas in tree bags will be an
easy and fairly permanent solution to the problem. If you are building a
large garden, it's important to make the plantings as care-free and long
lasting as possible. If you don't it will get away from you, and you will
find yourself unable to keep up with redoing the same beds.
                                                 ..........Bill Meyer

> Today I had planned to pick up 6 yards of "organic mix" from our local
> supplier.  This mix is 50% soil conditioner and 50% composted horse
> The hosta bed I am preparing is in a shaded wooded section of our front
> and because of tree roots I am not going to till the area.  Instead I am
> to simply build a raised bed with the organic mix.
> Is this organic mix detrimental to the hostas or is this an o.k. medium to
> plant them in.  I do plan to add pea gravel to each hole and surrounding
> where I plant each hosta to help combat the voles.
> Thanks for your input.
> Bobby
> Bobby Baxter
> TheGardenSite.com
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