-[Curtis Smith] Pecos Valley Iris gardener, Sue Chambers is an expert on growing Irises
and a lot of other things. And today, Sue is going to show us how to prepare the soil so
these things will grow well. Now, on our xeriscapes, we’ve got some plants
that don’t need this, but a lot of our gardens, our vegetable gardens and such
will need this kind of work. And Sue, how do you know that this soil needs to be worked on? – [Sue Chambers] Well, this particular
bed that I have emptied it looked more or less like this one, and you can see the difference
in the way this bed looks, which is about a year and a half old, and this one’s about five years old. – Time is part of it. – Yes, so they need nutrients. – And we’ve gotta remember
that Iris is a perennial, so it occupies the same piece
of ground for many years, depleting the minerals there, and our soils tend to bind up
some of our micronutrients, we’ve gotta work to replace it, and we can see that
some of these also show some Chlorosis, or
yellowing between the veins, and that’s probably a
nutrient deficiency as well. – That’s true, it is. When you wait five years to
add some nutrients to the soil, they just don’t have
anything to help them along, so therefore, I think
that it’s good to go ahead and do them about every three years. – [Curtis Smith] Often, the
first step in amending soil is getting the soil tested, but Sue already knows
from years of experience, which nutrients need
to be added to her soil to grow prize Irises. So today, our first step
is loosening the soil. Because this is a small bed,
hand tools work just fine. Now we’re ready for step two, adding the amendments; we’ll start with Alfalfa pellets. These will decompose and
add nitrogen to the soil. Next, we’ll add just a little bit of sand, which helps loosen the soil,
so the roots can grow deeper. But watch out, too much sand added to clay can make adobe, good for bricks, but not for gardens. Now we’ll add humus, and
manure to add nitrogen, and improve soil structure. Sue likes to add cotton-bur compost, that also adds nitrogen and
helps the soil hold water, and we’ll add gypsum,
which conditions the soil and helps plants use the
nutrients that we’ve added. The third and final step
is to mix these additives into the soil and rake it smooth; you can plant now, or wait a few months while these amendments improve the soil. Some perennial beds
have a variety of plants with different requirements for care; you can dig some up to work the area, with other plants you can’t dig up, use the spading fork to
help get the amendments down into the soil without
damaging plant roots. – And we did all this by hand,
– Yeah. – If they wanted to do something
as large as this whole bed, they might want to use a rototiller. – That’s true. – Of course, the exercise is good. – They would, because look,
it goes so much faster with a rototiller, especially
if your soil is hard. – Yes. – You know, but this was soft today, so this wasn’t bad to do by hand. – I know, you had it moistened first, too, and that makes a lot of
difference in New Mexico, if soil is dry, it’s hard. Thank you, Sue.