Woody and Eric go into the courtyard of the Library. This area appears to be in much better condition than the soil outside. Over the years the gardener that previously worked here spent a great deal of time composting and improving the soil in the courtyard, consequently it gives Woody an extra foot up. Woody knows the soil in here will be much better than outside. There he feels certain the PH will be 7.2-7.5, possibly even higher. That is definitely very alkaline. They test the soil in the courtyard with a Kelway soil tester. To use it they 1st clean the plate to get any contamination off, they loosen the soil a little, then insert the probe, pull the soil around the plates for a moment or so. Although there are many different testers Eric likes this type. It is particularly accurate and rugged and is user friendly. Many of the older testing units one needed to apply liquid to this and that, whereas with this unit as long as one keeps the plates clean it typically provides an excellent reading. The guys are already noticing the tester starting to move down a little, off of 7 to about 6.6. Although that doesn't seem huge it is always quite an accomplishment to get even as much as a tenth or two out of amending the soil.
What's the secret of transitioning from a competent gardener to a confident one? Pruning! Though pruning shrubs strikes fear into the hearts of many, it is actually a simple and rewarding process. All you need to do to master it is to understand a few basic principles behind the why, when, and how of pruning shrubs.
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