Special Soil Mixtures
Instead of liquid acid you can use a solution of one pound of ammonium sulfate or two pounds of ferrous sulfate to 100 gallons of water. The latter also supplies iron, an element often lacking in acid soils. (Used in this way, ferrous ammonium sulfate is not harmful, since the direct-nitrogen-fixing bacteria which it suppresses are not active in acid soils.)

Regardless of the chemical you use, check the water coming out of the hose; be sure (when pressure is full) that it checks at or below the pH desired. Always use the same pressure, since a change may change the ratio.

Not long ago I read a book which offered elaborate instructions for making an asparagus bed. The soil was to be dug out to a depth of two feet, then broken brick, cinders or other drainage was to be laid down, followed by an organic-rich soil mixture to fill the excava­tion. This was to be allowed to settle, after which trenches 12 inches deep were to be dug for planting.

I am all for deep working of soil if it will be occupied by the same plants for ten to twenty years or more, as an asparagus bed well may be, and if the deep digging will return adequate plant-growth div­idends. But asparagus will grow well in any ordinarily prepared garden soil.

Planting 12 inches deep is a waste of time for the asparagus crop and merely delays by at least a week the appearance of the first spears of the season, which, to my taste, are the best of the crop. No matter how soil is prepared, set crown tips not more than 2 inches down. We no longer want to grow blanched asparagus spears through six inches of soil. We no longer want to run cultivating equipment right over the crowns: today we use chemical weed killers. As for soil, any directions previously given for Gardener's Loam will produce a soil amply rich for this crop. Some of the best-flavored asparagus I ever ate came from a prairie which hadn't been plowed or manured for 30 years; in fact, the plants were growing wild all over the field.

Sometimes a need arises for a growing medium with some particular qualities-whether the material is to be used for garden or indoor plants. Among the special cultural compounds for container-grown plants are the John Innes Composts of English fame, while peat and sand mixtures (supplied with liquid nutrients) are used successfully by American growers. In the garden, of course, different problems surround the creation and maintenance of special soil mixtures or conditions. The pros and cons of soils for roses and acid-loving plants are discussed in helpful terms.

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