Indoor Pots Pictorial

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Smallaxe, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    An interesting idea has come up in another thread, that I would imagine many who are looking at 2 more months of desolate frozen tundra, might get into...

    There seems to be a great reluctance for people to look at their soils and determine texture, structure and even moisture... All these things are better observed and felt,,, on site by a real human being,,, so I believe that indoor pots/protected soils could give us great visuals as to what makes up a soil... Good, bad, or ugly...

    All Season long there are questions popping up about fungal diseases, fertilizers, weed infestations and problems with seeding... One possible answer that is actually the most likely answer, never gets explored, and that is:
    the condition of the soil...

    Riggle, had the idea of an experiment with pots... I hope he follows through...
    but I'm thinking,,, Once people are familiar with soil and how it should be,,, even how it could be,,, then the discussion about Turf problems can take on a "Whole Plant Worldview"... Right now the conversations deal ONLY with the grass leaves and even aeration plugs are too mysterious to comment on...

    I think a collection of pix, highlighting interesting features of soil would be most informative... If you notice something interesting in soil,,, post it here... :)
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I have a potted of soil profile down to rock at the bottom of a gallon pickle jar... I was hoping to observe the soil after it was placed into the jar and what happened as it dried... it is rich in compost,,, but otherwise regular soil from the garden...
    I'm hoping to see new aggregation forming by watching through the glass...

    At the top I have grass starting but germination is terrible... and I have yet to get a picture...

    It seems there is always too much glare and diffused light turns out too dark for detail,, but I hope to have actual pictures by the time the roots are visible through the glass... :)
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I got germination ,,, but I do not have the ability for close-ups through the glass... still working on that... this jar is sitting in my bay window and looks much fuller already... these pix are about 3 days old...
    I'm going to try for the pix again... nothing seems to work anymore...
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    heres another try and at least 10 letters...

    jar pics4 002.jpg
  5. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,808

    Good plan, Ax. For best photographs, try getting the light from the window behind you. Or shoot at night. Shooting through glass at roots and soil is tricky, I suspect. Try placing the camera on a tripod or couple books for support and use a short time exposure--flash may produce glare and reflections. Cover up the flash if necessary.

    This could be interesting. Perhaps we can add water and shake up a jar of our local soil in a jar and let it settle. In theory, it should settle out in distinct layers, coarse particles, medium, fine and eventually tiny colloidal clay particles. What is the percent of each in your town? Naturally it probably varies.
    At present...I have a bit of a snow situation. And glass jars are getting hard to find.

    Most of my weed experiments are growing in purchased potting soil. I am raising tomato plants for a future weed control test, (4 inches tall). Suggestions? I only have 4 weed products to test at the moment. Various combinations could be tested. Or perhaps humidity effects.
  6. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,086

    Why are you using clear glass jars? Are you covering the glass while not taking pictures? Are you trying to get pictures of the roots as they grow?

    Remember that roots are extremely light-sensitive (even ambient UV light kills roots almost immediately), so plants won't grow well in clear or translucent containers.
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The shaking of soil in a jar full of water actually is a fundemental activity that every gardener, horticulturalist and even turf growers should do on a new site... this will show you with great clarity what the Texture of the soil is and give you a good idea of the amount of OM available...

    When I was trying to shoot through the glass I have had the light behind me, in fairly dark and dispersed lighting situations , but it is either too dark or there is a glare... not bad , but just bad enough I can't get to see anything with the camera...

    I'm actually trying to show soil aggregates as the soil dries...then note any changes when watered again... also noting changes as the roots move into the soil which is beginning now...

    I'm mowing the top every couple of days now with a scissors... :)

    Good luck with the tomatoes and thanks for the ideas that involve winter activity...
    Speaking of which,,, there was an optimist on the weather report last nite that said , after this morning we are likely to be above zero(0) degrees F. for the remainder of the season...
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I'm actually monitoring Soil Structure Aggregates as the soil dries and get rewatered over a period of time... the grass seed was an after thought...

    I haven't had much problem with roots in glass jars over the years, even when starting cuttings in glasses of water sitting in the window... glass(and water) does filter UV quite effectively, so maybe that's why it's OK...

    In fact I got a very interestting bulb that was grown in a jar full of water, from the nursery,,, and roots are visible all the way to the bottom... I would think that the roots would drown and rot, but I was wrong... I'll have to include that in my next photo shoot... :)
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,808

    So...Most of our soil is under deep snow and frozen, but I found some soil at a construction site where a tree had been cut and the stump pushed out with a bulldozer. The soil was obtained from around the upturned roots. I estimated that the soil had originally been about 12 to 18 inches deep. The site was an old vacant lot that had been covered by grass (probably quackgrass) and not mowed for many years. The lot is adjacent to the new construction seeded last April 26th, and discussed with many pictures in the summer of 2012.
    I added the soil to the jar, and the soil was lumpy, but clearly friable, aggregated, but not hard, easily shoveled into the jar with a hand trowel. After water was added and the jar shaken 100 times--it formed a muddy suspension. Difficult to photograph due to glare. Light from the side was best. After 24 hours (photo 2) there were about 2 inches of coarse material, and a half-inch of finer particles that settled out more slowly, about a 1/16th" layer of still finer particles There were some very fine particles still in suspension, and a thin layer of organic matter floating on top.

    I am not a geologist, but I have been told this area was probably under water--perhaps under Lake Michigan, a few thousand years ago. My neighborhood is almost flat with a few hills about a mile to the east.


    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Just from a rough estimate of the photo, I'd say your texture is 75% sand and 25% clay,,, minus the % of silt sitting on the clay... That's really not a bad texture to work with, if OM was added to it and tilled in good, I would imagine the top 6-8" being an excellent loam as a result...
    Your jar is quite similar to the types of pecentages we see in our jars, only all the clay around here is red...

    I enjoy hearing ideas about the geology of the planet, especially the Glacial Midwest... Was your friend saying that L. Michigan was larger at some point after the flood and that you are living on soil that was part of lake bed at one time??? How deep is the water table in your flat areas???
    I'm sitting on high ground with the well being around 100' deep,,, but the back 40, has a pond and swamps... We have lots of steep hills in this area, yet Centro Wisco has flatlands of sand, just above the water table that grows potatos like misquitos...

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