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Help with soil

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Help with soil

Postby Aapoll » May 09, 2013 3:07 pm

We just moved into our house last summer and I was so excited to get a garden put in and fix up the greenhouse. I finally got my garden turned over this past weekend (still another few weeks of frost danger so I won't be planting anything for another two weeks). Wouldn't you know it, it's all clay. The top has dried out over the last few days and is pretty solid. I went and picked up a truck box full of black dirt and it didn't cover near as much ground as I expected. After googling ways to make clay useable, I have decided I'm just going to use organic matter that I can find around the property. I have tons of old hay lying on the ground where we kept our hay for the winter and its pretty rotten so I gathered a bunch of that to run through the mower along with some old leaves. I have ALOT of old hay I can use, but I want to be able to plant things starting in a week or two. How much of this should I till in ?(it has to be tilled, its completely not workable other then the small layer of black dirt).

I also found a fairly large pile of dirt on the property today (of course it's covered with dead and new crab grass.) this dirt is perfect loam. I am going to move it with the tractor onto the garden as well. I pulled off the dead weeds and added them to my pile of hay, and threw away the big chunks of roots. Should I till this into the soil as well or just leave it as a top soil? I'm not overly worried about weeds, they seem to spring up everywhere no matter what you do so I will just use my push behind tiller to keep my pathways weed free and hand pick the rest (I have 3 kids who are always eager to help). My garden soil in the end will be way higher then the surrounding area. Do you think this will make the soil useable to plant in right away?

I'm only going to be using this garden for a year or two before we sell again so I don't really care if its a permanent fix, who knows if it would ever be used again. I also have the option of scooping some dirt from our horse corral. The manure has changed most of the soil there in a few months. It was completely water logged and clay on one end and now its nice a loamy. I just don't want to unintentionally add more clay. I should just fence my garden and put my horses there for a few weeks lol. How should I do this? Any opinions welcome.
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Re: Help with soil

Postby Countryboy » May 09, 2013 3:30 pm

Since u want to plant soonest, I would dig the clay out to 2 spade depths *at least* over an area that u think u want to use immediately. Fill that up with your good loam... and plant.

For the rest of it, your plans are good... just keep tilling in better stuff. Leaves, straw, and other organics are what u want to add.

I created a garden bed here, out of lawn, old driveway and fire pit. I tilled in 4' of leaves a year . . . for three years... :( lol
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
.....Ralph Waldo Emmerson....

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Re: Help with soil

Postby Aapoll » May 09, 2013 4:02 pm

So just mixing stuff in wont help me be able to plant this year? I just spread a truck load of black dirt over it... By hand which took me 3 hours with 2 small children lol. My garden is about 15x20 give or take and I was planning on utilizing all of it (I have a cold room in my house for storing potatoes, and canned goods over the winter). I don't think there's enough good loam to fill, plus I already added 6 bags of peat moss to the area last night. Seems like so much work, to just move the tractor in and scoop it out lol. Probably something I should have thought of in the beginning lol. Maybe I can revive the top layer, scoop some out and then replace and add the leaves, hay loam and top layer, then till? Oh dear this is turning in to more work then I expected.
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Re: Help with soil

Postby Aapoll » May 09, 2013 4:24 pm

Its also worth mentioning that its not the grey clay, there's very little of the "shine" to it. It's a very dark black extremely moldable(just like playdo rather then mondeling clay. I'm not sure if it makes a difference or not, but I'm hoping it might. Some of it breaks apart rather easy while dry while other pieces I swear you need a hammer for
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Re: Help with soil

Postby Countryboy » May 09, 2013 8:19 pm

Well u might plant. But you'll have to break up all the fine material in the clay and mix it well enuf with other material to keep it from clumping again.

'Pologies, eh? I'm not trying to be curt but I'm down to one handed typing for a bit still. :( lol
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
.....Ralph Waldo Emmerson....

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Re: Help with soil

Postby Aapoll » May 09, 2013 11:53 pm

No worries. Turns out I didn't really have much say in the matter lol. My husband moved the pile over with the tractor and put it on top. There was a lot more dirt then I thought! There's 4 piles of 4' high dirt across the garden. Once I get it all spread out their e should be about a foot of this stuff on top. The nice "loam" I found must have been an old pile of something that ended up composting? There was bits and pieces of all different things throughout it. There is also lots of chunks of old rotting wood, I am taking them out but should I add some nitrogen to soil? Or will the cow manure and other stuff be enough? This stuff is packed full of worms!.

Anyway we are going to use the big tractor tomorrow to till it lots (there's also some clumps of roots in the new soil) and see what happens.
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Re: Help with soil

Postby Countryboy » May 10, 2013 6:53 am

The best laid plans of wives often wind up sidetracked by husbands, eh? lol

Sounds like it's coming along well. Good for u! :)

Nitrogen (blood meal) shouldn't be necessary in organics that are already broken down. In their 'loam' form, they'll be ready to give all their nitrogen back to the soil. And too much nitrogen is not good.
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
.....Ralph Waldo Emmerson....

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Re: Help with soil

Postby CG admin » May 10, 2013 9:41 am

Sorry I'm a little late to your discussion, but we have an article on the site about "coping with clay soil" that might contain some helpful tips!

http://bit.ly/12lo3Jj

Best of luck with your garden!
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Re: Help with soil

Postby Aapoll » May 10, 2013 12:24 pm

Lol it's funny how that happens. I'm just really glad that he's willing to help, since there's so many other things that need doing around here and he's not really in to gardening. I am going to use the patch where the Dirt mound used to be for my pumpkins :). Those suckers are growing like bad weeds! And really need to get outside.
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