Soil erosion is a concern for gardeners of all experience levels, and probably more so for beginning gardeners like me. In our enthusiasm to get water to the plants, we tend to put the water right on the plants, which ends up annoying both the plants and the soil.
Water Jugs Cause Erosion
I water from a variety of non-recyclable household containers – gallon-size plastic milk jugs, two-quart veggie juice jugs, a few old soft drink containers, and four big plastic cat food holders.
The cat food holders have wide mouths, so when water is poured out of them, they W-A-T-E-R whatever is beneath them. Think Great Flood, sinking ships, high tide. And lots of soil erosion. (So the cat food holders stay outdoors where they don’t cause carpet damage!)
Even the little water jugs cause a certain amount of erosion. When the water hits the potting soil, even if it’s applied gently, the soil moves. Some flushes out the base, some gets compacted. Roots are exposed.
Place Shells to Stop Erosion
Here’s where being a packrat—err, astute object salvager pays off. We had stuffed scallops for dinner a few months ago, and the shells looked so pretty that I had to save them. I boiled them to get rid of food particles, then dried them overnight and propped them around the edge of one of my decorative glass bowls.
Then last week when I noticed that watering was dropping the soil level on a few of my decorative evergreens, I grabbed a few shells from the bowl and placed them in the pots over mounds of fresh soil. This worked so well that I’ve distributed most of my seashell collection around the rest of my gardening pots, stopping erosion dead in its tracks.
Water the Shells, not the Soil
When I water, I aim for the shell instead of the soil. The water seeps in. The shell keeps the soil from moving. The plant gets teensy tastes of whatever shells are made of – calcium, limestone, old clam – and the soil erosion is stopped in its tracks. Plus it looks pretty.
Save your sea shells from the next trip to the shore or your next few frozen stuffed scallop dinners – clean them up and use them to keep the water from digging up your plant roots and causing uncontrolled garden erosion. Your squash will thank you!