The Flower Press - - a newsletter of the Lincolnshire Garden Club
April 2010

Annual Allocations Presentation and Program

Thursday, April 15, 2010

“Tool Time with Sam Darin”

You’ve heard it before – use the right tool to make the job easier.  Our speaker for April would agree and add – use a properly sharpened tool to do the job right.  Sam Darin is a master gardener who specializes in the care and sharpening of garden tools.  He volunteers at the Chicago Botanic Garden and teaches in the community.  He will speak with us after our allocations presentation to enlighten us all on methods to make our tools work their best.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

                Time:  9:30 a.m. – Continental Breakfast

                  9:45 a.m. – Business Meeting

                  10:00 a.m. – Program

                Place:  Vernon Area Public Library

                Hospitality Committee:

                Lorraine Jette – Lead Hostess

                Tina Carlsson

                Barbara LaPiana

                Hope May

                Joanna Schell

                Jeanne Top


Jan Stefans, President

Happy Spring!!

Colors abound in the greenhouses of the Botanic Gardens.  Last week Ann, Linda and I joined the Depke “crew” for a tour.  The orchids were spectacular, an amazing variety all in bloom.  Very soon there will be a riot of color outside as the spring bulbs open.  Remember that the Garden Club has a membership to the Botanic Gardens that can be loaned out to all members.

I want to thank the allocations committee for a job well done.  Our April meeting will present our fund raising efforts to seven deserving recipients.  And a big thank you to all of the Garden Club members for making this happen through your support and donations of our Annual Benefit.


By Elaine Petersen

The Old Rose Gardener says:

         Gardening is a growing experience.

         A good garden is the triumph of hope and experience-

         Every year you hope your garden will turn out well,

         But your past experience tells you better.

         To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe,

         To plant seeds and watch the renewal of life-

         This is the commonest delight of the human race.

         If you want to be happy for an hour, drink wine.

         If you want to be happy for a day, run away.

         If you want to be happy for a year, get married.

         If you want to be happy forever, be a gardener.

         One who grows does not grow old.

Just ask the Old Rose Gardener!



At our March 18 meeting, Garden Club members approved grants totaling $5,010.


Daniel Wright Jr HS

Native plant rain garden; on-site botany lab

$  700

Eagle Scout Project, Ryerson

Native garden (in front of Ryerson cabin)

$  560

Habitat for Humanity, Lake Co.

Gardening Together Program

$  500

Indian Creek Watershed Project

Pollution prevention-themed newsletter design and print costs

$  500

Lake County Forest Preserves

Entrance planter for Welcome Center

$  500

Laura B. Sprague School

Gardening project, demonstration gardens


Village of Lincolnshire

Holiday entrance lighted trees




A Do-it-Yourselfer Guide to Testing Soil Texture

By Janice Hand

Since such a large aspect of successful gardening depends on soil, it’s important to know what kind of soils you have. How to find out? Of course, you can send in a soil sample and get it tested. Or, you can do it yourself.

For the do-it-yourselfers in our Garden Club, here’s how to accurately determine soil texture.


1.    Collect a soil sample.  To do this you need a few supplies:

§  A straight-sided jar with a tight lid,

§  Plastic tray or old cookie sheet,

§  Some powdered dishwashing detergent,

§  Ruler,

§  Water, and

§  Calculator.

To get the sample itself, scrape away the top 2 inches of soil, since roots do not concentrate there. Then, dig about 6 inches down and get a trowel-full of soil from your hole, taking care not to include large organic matter and rocks. You will want to take multiple samples from the same area, mixing them thoroughly.

Spread the soil on a tray and let it dry for several days. When it’s dry, sift the soil through an old colander or screen to remove small stones and roots. This will make sure that the soil does not contain clumps.

2.    Combine the ingredients. Put a cup of the sifted soil in the straight-sided jar and add a tablespoon of powdered dishwashing detergent. (The detergent keeps soil particles from clumping.) Add water to fill the jar to the top, screw the top on tightly, and shake for 3 minutes so that soil, detergent, and water are all thoroughly combined.  Next, set the jar on a flat surface.

3.    Watch and measure sedimentation.  Check your jar periodically to see soil layers form; note the size of particles that settle out. You will see:

§  Sand is the heaviest and settles out in about 1 minute.

§  Silt is the next heaviest and settles out after about an hour. This layer is darker than the sand layer.

§  Clay, the lightest in both weight and color, needs 1 to 2 days to settle.

4.    Measure and calculate.  You want to figure out the percent of soil types in the layered sample in the jar. To do this, first measure the total amount of soil. Then measure each layer—sand, silt, and clay. Divide each individual layer’s measurement by the total amount of soil. An example:

§  The total soil sample made up of the three layers measures 2.25 inches.

§  Of the components, sand makes up ¾ inch, silt makes up 1 inch, and clay makes up ½ inch. (Note that the total is 2.25 inches.)

§  Sand is 33% of the sample (.75 divided by 2.25 x 100), silt is 44% (1 divided by 2.25 x 100), and clay is 22% (.5 divided by 2.25 x 100).

5.    Refer to the soil texture triangle.  Transfer your numeric results to the soil texture triangle below. (It’s not as hard as it looks.)  Using the example above, you would find 33 for sand (go to the bottom of the triangle and put a dot at about 33, then draw a straight line up and to the left toward “clay.” Then, find 44 on the silt axis and draw a line from there toward “sand.” Last, on the clay axis, find 22 and draw a line from there toward “silt.”  Congratulations, the three lines intersect in the “loam” segment of the chart!

6.    Adjust your garden soil.  Based on your test, you can now appropriately adjust your soil texture. An example:

§  For “sandy” samples, fertility and moisture retention problems are likely. Add organic material.

§  For “silty” samples, soil fertility should be good, but add organic matter to help with drainage.

§  For “clay” samples, soil fertility should be good, but you will need to add organic matter to help minimize clay’s tendency to clump into root-free zones.

Soil Trivia (or, Obscure Information Only Gardeners Would Love)

Here are a few questions so you can test your knowledge of garden soil. How many of these do you know?

1.   The main force that pulls water into the ground is:

a.   Gravity

b.   Capillary forces

c.    Magic

2.   The recommended watering schedule of 1” per week is roughly equal to ____ gallon(s) of water per square foot of soil.

3.   Soil bacteria make nitrogen available in soil. T or F?

4.   Over 90% of plants get nutrients from soil via a symbiotic fungus. T or F?

5.   When fertilizing, use a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10). T or F?

Quiz Answers

1.  B.  Capillary forces pull water down and sideways into the ground. This is why drip irrigation nozzles do not need to be immediately next to the plant that is to be watered.

2.  Gallon.  However, soil texture affects this answer. For clay-based soils, the amount is closer to .65 of an inch to wet that square foot of soil. That is because clay soils are so dense that smaller amounts of water in the soil are “available” to the plant.

3. T the other two macronutrients (phosphorus and potassium) are part of the mineral form in soil and are made available to growing plants by geochemical processes, algae, and fungi.

4. T  The fungi living in the soil produce hyphen, which are hair-like threads that are tiny tubes. These hyphen have access to dissolved minerals and nutrients in the soil and take up water and minerals. Plant roots make sugars and carbohydrates for the hyphen, which in exchange provide nutrients and water.  (To get even more obscure, “mycorrhiza” is the term for the relationship between a fungus and a green plant.)

5. F  Our soils contain sufficient phosphorus already (the middle letter in the fertilizer bag label – N-P-K), which makes any addition of phosphorus unnecessary and polluting. Excess phosphorus, which runs off into ground water, rivers, and ponds, is highly polluting. In fact, some municipalities have banned its use totally. The short answer: “The middle number on the fertilizer bags for this area should be 0!”