We've just moved to the Southwest.
Like many, I used to think of desert as rocks, and sand.
I'm amazed at the variety of flowering plants
that grow in this environment....
We'd like to plant our garden area with native plants.
( Shrubs, flowering bushes, sagebrush, etc....)
The soil is somewhat sandy, and gets "clay-ey" about a foot down.
My ( backEast ) instincts are to mix a bunch of mulch,
and peat with the soil..... then a slow release fertilizer.
My spouse opines that this may be a mix that's
foreign to the plants we're trying to grow.
All soils have some degree of biological diversity regardless of composition
unless they have beeen sterilized through chemical dumping. Regardless of
the current state of the soils, desert and or xeriscape plants are NOT
helped by adding amendments or fertilizers - less indigenous ornamentals,
perhaps. And regardless where one is located and what soils you are working
with, it is not favored horticultural practice to fertilize any newly
Pam, I think what he might be implying is that the soil at this site might
have been brought in by the construction firm, or that the desert topsoil,
such as it is, has been completely bulldozed away before construction - or
else, compacted by heavy machinery, which might cause native caliches
(cement-like clay) to be permanently unusable by native plants. I'm not sure
what would be needed to bring such soils to the point of supporting native
flora - if not traditional amendments (and I agree that I can't really see a
role for peat moss in a desert setting), perhaps some sort of aeration, or
distribution of sand and gravel into the mix.
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