The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Virginia soil indicator plants

Fields of broomsedge, while pretty, are a sign of poor soil quality.Imagine for a minute that you just moved onto a large farm, the way we did three years ago.  How do you know where the soil is ideal for a garden?  Soil tests are a good move, but it would cost an arm and a leg to decipher the microhabitats that cover even a quarter of an acre on our farm.  You can do what I did and just plant things randomly and watch half of them die, or you can use Robert Kourik's list of indicator plants to find good and poor garden spots.

Is your yard overrun with hopclover and whitetop aster?  Chances are your soil is excessively alkaline and needs some acidification before it will make good garden ground.  What if you've got a lot of sheep sorrel, goldenrod, and field bindweed?  That means your soil is sandy.

I took Robert Kourik's three page list of indicator plants and compiled all of the ones that live in Virginia and the surrounding area, adding in an indicator plant or two of my own.  The resulting spreadsheet is easy to sort by category so that you can see all of the wetland or cultivated land indicators in one spot --- oh the wonders of technology!  Download my Virginia soil indicator plants spreadsheet and enjoy!

This post is part of our lunchtime series reviewing Robert Kourik's Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape Naturally.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Greetings! I would really love to see your Virginia soil indicator list. We are planning a 1/3 acre garden, near Fredericksburg, VA that currently is growing many things on its own. Your link for it is not working. Jacki Wallo

Comment by Jacki Sun Nov 20 21:38:02 2022
Not sure why that link isn't working, but this one should (I hope)!
Comment by anna Wed Nov 23 12:00:49 2022
The link automatically downloads the file, so if you have downloads blocked it won't work.
Comment by anna Wed Nov 23 12:03:33 2022

This is a wonderful tool. Thank you so much! Jacki

Comment by Jacki Wed Nov 23 12:34:13 2022

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