The Dirt - Where Have You Been?!

Jason Levin

The Dirt - Where Have You Been?!

Q: Hey, where have you been Dirt blog?

A: After 213 monthly issues of The Dirt (that’s almost 18 years worth of monthly blog posts!)
we decided to put The Dirt on ice for a spell. We'd wanted to take some time to come up with a plan
to freshen it up and make it more compelling for your end of the team. The Dirt was initially created
to give you the 411 on what is going on with us. But, we were missing something. Now we’ll focus on
what is going on with us that is relevant to you! We think we have it (but we’ll let you be the judge of that...)
Let us know!

Q: So, what’s first?

A: For our 214th edition, we want to start with where it all begins; the actual dirt - or soil.
You might say: "what does the dirt have to do with me"? Well, here’s the deal, if we don’t get the soil right,
then we won’t get sunflowers that last. Soil selection and preparation are fundamental to growing great sunflowers!

Q: Ok. I’ll bite, tell me more.

A: In the rainy winter months we select land in the deserts of Sonora and in Southern Baja for their sandy soils.
Sandy soil is dry, gritty to the touch, and has large particles.
This means that water drains rapidly through it.
In the rainy season it’s critical that our soil drains quickly after a big rain.

Q: What else do you do?

A: We also form much taller beds than we do in the dry season.

Q: Why is this a good thing?

A: The combination of sandy soil and tall beds means that the rain water is
absorbed quickly and your sunflowers are not standing in water.
Sunflowers sitting in fields full of water are not good for either of us.
If we let this happen, your sunflowers would arrive with rotten stems and droopy heads.
No Bueno. OK?

Q: What do you do in the dry season?

A: In the drier summer season we plant on land that has a much heavier soil.
This soil is a combination of clay, sand, and silt.
It is sticky to the touch when wet, but smooth when it’s dry.

Q: Why is this good?

A: Heavier soil has smaller particles, has good water storage qualities, and is much slower to drain.
We need this to happen when we have no rain and are relying on our own drip irrigation.

Q: Why is this good for me?

A: Well, if we used sandy soil that didn’t hold water, we’d have to use a lot more of our own water
and thus your sunflowers would cost you about $10.00 a stem. No bueno.

Q: Ah. OK, got it. Anything else that I should know?

A: Sure! Before we plant we send soil samples to a lab for analysis.
Our analyst recommends amendments; like chicken manure, finished compost and pulverized limestone.
We then incorporate all of this beauty into the soil to get the PH of the soil nutrition right.

Q: That’s it?

A:  Nope. That’s just the dirt! It is the foundation for all that we do,
so we can talk about the rest later... ;D