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Sands & Soils of Florida

Ashes to ashes and dust to soil! Soil used to be something else and soon will be something else. It is a transition. Itís a phase, a phase we all go through. Everything does. The calcium in your milk was a rock just a few weeks ago or who knows what? Soil is a living being. Every soil has a technical name but for our purposes letís just say there is sand, loam and clay. These are soil types and reflect particle size. Clays are small particles, loams are a little larger particle and sands are large. Pebbles are huge, rocks are enormus and solid granite is a soil type. Itís really all about water and a soils ability to hold water. This is controlled by particle size and the sticking together nature of water. This is why it forms a drop ~ the diapole moment of water. Clays are so small that water raps around them and wonít let go. Clays can be wet and sticky yet a plant can die from drought due to no available water. Sands are so large of a particle that water canít rap around them and just passes on. Particle size defines them. A loam holds water well yet lets go of it well to a plantís rooting zone. Organic matter is different in that it is rotting composting stuff that is in process of being reduced to its basic particles. Due to the diapole nature of water and organic matter being poreus, it soaks and holds water well ~ like little sponges throughout a soil . This helps with friability. Friability is how crumbly a soil is and creates soil structure. Sands have little and you can hit a dry clay with a hammer. How plants stand up and why roads donít crumble is all based on particle size and water content. Isnít this neat! Think about pottery!

Minerals reflect soil chemistry. Chemistry controls plant growth in that there must be calcium present for you to end up with calcium in your milk. All plants work alittle different around chemistry yet they still work the same. Minerals must be absorbed in groups with these groups varying for different plant groups. Some require trace elements or very very tiny amounts of some element absorbion from the soil or metabolism in the plants of something totally different like molibimum in soybeans. Chemistry controls color! BUT, itís the pH, how acid or basic a soil, that controls mineral and water absorbion ~ called soil reactivity. Things just got complicated. Letís call it interesting! Pores or empty spaces have been created in our sand, loam and clay soil mixes that have water retained in them. Letís throw in alittle organic matter and now call them soils. Our particles are iron, aluminium, copper, silicis, nitrogen, alotta our basic elements and compounds, natural and unnatural. Bigger ones holding more water, smaller ones less. Some are reactive and alive, some are inert and dead. This is pH. The water in these pore spaces reacting with these soil particles transport these metals and compound into the plants, water and Florida environment. It is all flow in transition and change. This rate of change is pH and is 7.3 in both soil and blood. I have worked with 6.8 pH soils in Santa Fe and Mongolia that grow beautiful native grasses. Some very basic volcanic soils are very productive with their native plants but most soil is devoid of bacteria and life outside of a pH 7 and 7.6. Most fungus and mold problems can be solved by correcting the acidity. It is the 1st thing to test when evaluating a soil. All else is pH dependant. Next test for the normal elements like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and sodium (Na). A cheap soil test kit is good to have around ~ maybe 20 test tabs for $9.95 at any gardening store. Get alittle more sophisicated soil test kit for evaluating more elements and compounds or send samples off to private lab. Contacting your county agent to see what is normal for your area is good. Ask what others are doing. For extremely serious problems ask an old lady with a beautiful yard while she out gardening. She will know! One might write a gardening newspaper column or chat line, as well. Usually all gardening problems have a simple natural solution if you just ask around! For my pH adjustments I use powdered pure sulfur (or lime for basic) in a Miracle Group hose spray from Lowes in beds and a small swimming pool chorinator put in the sprinkler water intake line (before the valves). This made beautiful lawns and gardens in my landscaping business there for 7 years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Large Californa based landscaping companies tried to bribe my customers for that secret! Slowly find a rate testing the soil often before you apply the water trying to maintain the perfect 7.3 pH. Cheap soil test kit tabs or litmus paper work well. The soil particles were still very reactive but it will balance out in about a week. You are using very little sulfur/lime, actually. I donít recommend doing this on a very large scale due to overall environmental impact. Using lots of organic matter and basing production on native plants seems far cheaper and wiser. Planting natives and enhancing there growth patterns in native natural ways seems to be becoming quite popular. This builds natural soil structure and one ends up with fewer mistakes. Soil and water mistakes can be devastating and quite expensive.

Native trees and plants are the best way to build natural soil structures in any area. Let them do the work, investing time instead of money. Plant trees down your driveway to grow substructure. Look ar all the old Colonial roads and driveways! Substructure is necessary for weight or load capacity. The ancient Romanís roads still work just like the Great Wall of China still stands. Foundation foundation foundations. Wanna look at simple road construction, look at ancient Roman substructure. Put something under it! Something that builds a lattice. First look at your weights, the load you are wanting to carry 90% of the time. Then note what the maximum it might ever want to carry. Say a concrete truck once or twice maybe a tractor trailer. Remember structure is about friablity and vibration destroys structure. Thatís why we go slower in sugar sands, so less damage is done. A lattice is not only porous to water but absorbs vibration. Ever walk across a large bridge full of traffic? Scary, huh? That bridge controls vibration more than holds up weight. Itís a damper system. The effects of time and use can help or hurt. Vibration destroys metal and hard rock! But what of fractured rock or wood. Old bridges were wooden lattice or ladder. What about putting wooden lattice under our roads, our sugar sands to build substructure? Trees do it naturlly and can leave long standing rooting zone that will support for erons. One can put logs or boards under short term roads for massive load carrying ability. They only work until they rot but excellent short term solution, especially in sugars sands, mud or collasping snow. If vibrations are kept to a minimum, they will develop sound perminant substructure with their organic matter through decay. Criss cross boards, branches or logs into lattice under the road. Build a road bed then cover it. Metal can be used &/or 6Ē crushed rock for non-rotting high load solutions. Large crushed rock works well applied before crusher rock mixes for a road bed because it is porous and absorbs vibrations. The more the load the deeper and bigger the rock. Vibration over time will settle it and strengthen it yet the road can bend, twist and breathe as well as enjoy rain without runoff or standing water problems. Clays added to sands work for alittle while then just wash into our water table plugging all sorts of natural porosity zones and sensity pressure points not to mention all the unnatural particles and compounds that one is adding to the overall soil, water and Florida environment. Heavy rains leach our Florida sands regularily so that native plants offer excellent permenant solutions. Water runoff from paved roads and parking lots are costly and present very expensive problems as well as severely damage our water ways.

Florida is destroying her tourism by destroying our natural beauty and Life. The Silver Springs River is an excellent example of a riverís massive change due to runoff from parking areas. As the river and springs change, tourism decreases. The type of tourist change into a less caring, less spending group adding more colaspe to an already teatering Florida. Understanding our Florida sands and waters can only empower us to the support the natural ways and physical laws that are reality.

Geothermal Tree Planting

Live in North Florida and wanna garden like you live in South Florida? Well one way is to make a geothermal generator under each tree or garden bed. Sound complicated, itís not!

Ever hear of a kiva? Itís a 1st migration Native American structure that evolved into everything from the Aztecís pyramids to the Mound Builderís mounds to bead baking ovens to homes. Kivas are basically half a sphere made outta whateverís local ~ a dome house, so to speak. One uses the surface covering to control heat loss. The Hopi hogan is a half buried dome house made of logs filled in with mud. They can be made entirely of mud (adobe) or small for cooking. They work quite well in sunny and desert areas where solar heats and cools them. Our corn chips come from the Native practice of rubbing corn meal paste on the outside of hot kiva while the fire was going in it. A fire was burned down to coals in one, then raked out usually. Food was then placed inside to cook. Then it was sealed. What goes on inside of any sealed kiva is holy and magical by definition. The log cabin is a modified kiva of a Southeastern Mound Builders structure. Logs were stacked lengthwise, interlocking like a log cabin but in an octagon or circular pattern. Smaller logs/sticks are used for smaller kivas. Whatever is readily available. Then mud mixed with eastern buffalo hair, straw, sticks, whatever is pressed into the spaces. This is built in the sun and dried or, as with the Plainís Natives, sodded. The Georgia and Florida Choctaw/Seminole used cattail (the plant) strips or palm frond strips to weave sheets that were made into large circles with rounded tops. Early Spanish reported that they had hundreds of them, one for each family and that they hung out on the tops, laughing and smoking on warm evenings. Several intact ancient Yucci prayer kiva have been found along with numerous cash/stashes they built for stores for use during road trips. So why wouldnít this work underground? I tried it on my own land planting citrus trees and have had incredible results. Learned a few lessons too. Hereís what I did:

1. Dig a 5 foot deep whole in a sunny well drained location ~ 6 foot diameter for citrus trees. For beds, make hole 6Ē or a foot over bed size unless next to a wall.

2. Place 18Ē x 1 to 2í diameter oak log upright lining your edge of the 5í x 6í hole or bed sized hole.

3. Cover floor with pine or soft woods a few inches thick. I used 3 to 6Ē pine logs and alotta medium sized oak branches.

4. Fill hole with local soil and cow manure/organic matter mix to top of 1st level of logs ~ I have very white sand and high rainfall so I mixed them half and half.

5. Compress as best you can. Jump on it. Poke it with sticks. I packed it by bouncing a 5í x 5Ē log upright over alotta of it.

6. Place more 18Ē x 1 to 2í diameter oak log upright lining the inside edge of the new circle created by the last upright circle of logs.

7. Back fill behind the new logs with local soil and place more soft wood typed wood trash inside new circle on the floor of the hole. Place several inches of on floor.

8. Add more local soil and organic matter mix to level of the top of the new upright log layer.

9. Compress as best you can.

10. Place more 18Ē x 1 to 2í diameter oak log upright lining the inside edge of the new circle created by the last upright circle of logs.

11. Back fill behind the new logs with local soil and place more soft wood typed wood trash inside new circle on the floor of the hole. Place several inches of on floor.

12.Add more local soil and organic matter mix to level of the top of new upright log layer.

13. Compress as best you can.

14. Continue this process until your hole is filled to where the log circle is about 1 foot from surface making an underground log dome. In beds, it leaves a nice planting area.

15. It will settle 2í ~ remember ~ compress a lot between layers!!!

16. Plant tree making mound about 2í about height you want it. Use your local soil manure/organic matter mix but possibly alittle less than was used in layer mix.

17. Water frequently but not to much. Remember, the actual tree roots are small.

18. Cover during cool times for maximum effects. I use 20í x 20í plastic sheeting from a 100í role ~ 5 trees worth. Tie pole tee pees from green saplings then cover to ground. Cover tree entirely. Warm inside ~ gathers lizards on cold nights!

Watering will cause decomposition of logs and organic matter ~ heat and rot! Rot will cause CO2, alittle methane, HEAT and air movement! Remember to water during dry winter times for increased soil temperature and warm rising gases. Protecting from over watering and large rain storm leaching will make it last longer.

It will all eventually rot, quickly here Florida, leaving nice extended rooting zones, stability from lodging (falling over), increased water holding capacity and, most of all, larger more developed roots and tree for fragile trees. The colder the winter, the more it seems to be used up. Hurricanes seem to leach it.

It does seem the trouble, however, in getting more production faster and in making beds grow much much fast, especially in terms of winter lettuce or winter tomatoes. A series of small tripod tee pees in a row covered in plastic or cheese cloth is easy for cool periods or frost. Remember to seal to ground for best results. Note that cheese cloth seals when frost or snow hits it yet lets rain pass. Available in 100í lengths with grommets, called tobacco bed cover, 100% cotton heavy duty. A sealed bed is an excellent opportunity to begin your PREDATOR BASED BIOLOGICAL INSECT CONTROL PROGRAM!!!!!!!

Blessings, Pat High



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