Garden Soil

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by MFIEVET, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. MFIEVET

    MFIEVET Member

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    Location:
    ELIZABETHTOWN, KENTUCKY
    I Live In Colesburg Kentucy, Thats Five Miles From Elizabethtown. I Have A 23 Acre Farm . The Soil Is That Bluish Clay, Hard As Rock In The Summer And Soggy As A Sponge When Wet. I Have A Half Acre Garden. I've Put Cow And Horse Manure Into The Soil. I've Limed It Along With Fertilizer. The Vegtables I Plant Have A Hard Time Getting Started.does Any One Have Any Suggestions On Softening The Soil?
     
  2. Mr. Biggs

    Mr. Biggs Member

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    Location:
    Vancouver
    Have you tried garden compost brewed from your own garden's organic waste. Start a garden compost and you'll be amazed at what your kitchen and garden waste can do for your soil.
     
  3. moondreamer

    moondreamer Member

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    I would like to know just where someone is going to get enough compost to condition clay enough that it won't squeeze the feeding roots of plants for as much space as was mentioned in the first post. I have a very small garden, and even with getting grass clippings from the local parks, I cant get enough after it's "cooked down" for my needs.
     
  4. Puddleton

    Puddleton Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    North Curl Curl, Australia
    If you have a wee garden, buy the elcheapo potting mix from your supermarket and turn a few bags of that into your soil. The cheap stuff is normally terible as a potting media but excellent as a soil lightener. Consider digging perlite into the soil also,
    Some clays benefit from applications of gypsum. it wont alter your ph and can be used quite liberally. applying lime to improve clay can be quite risky to your future soil ph.
    Personally, I'm a big fan of mulching clays heavily and keeping it moist then I sit back and let the worms do the hard work
     
  5. moondreamer

    moondreamer Member

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    I've tried using potting soil in the clay. It comes from buckets that I grow some things in. I change the soil in buckets yearly. The problem is, the temps never get under 90 degrees, or 32C. and the potting soil dries out quickly. It takes oceans of water to wet it enough to make it sink back down to the ground.

    The point I was trying to make is that, unless you buy the compost, it is impossible to have enough out of a home made compost pile. How can big farms afford to use compost without raising the price of food so high everyone gets to starve?
     
  6. Puddleton

    Puddleton Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    North Curl Curl, Australia
    if you live near a large regional centre then it would be worthwhile enquiring at the local tip, they may recycle green waste and have a composting facility. If they dont then It would be prudent to form a local action group and lobby the authorities to develop the service.
    wise Farmers sow green crops inbetween their cash crops. Green crops are turned back into the soil at a suitable age and rot in situ
    furnace like climates are not my forte
    Have a look at this mob, they may be able to help
    http://www.drylandscope.org/
     
  7. moondreamer

    moondreamer Member

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    Our refuse site has a greenwaste disposal, and it costs a fortune to dispose there. However, they ship it who knows where, another county, and we loose. The local & county government is run by bribe.
     
  8. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Denman Island,BC
    Alfalfa is a deep rooted legume that is used in reclamation of mining tailing areas, often a high clay residue. The planting must be done in the spring, and often the ideal time is before the ground is stable enough to support conventional farming equipment. I find on my clay areas (our place ranges from sandy-rocky to deep clay loam, with one field of nearly straight blue clay from the digging of our irrigation pond) there is a brief period in the most fall seasons where the rains have softened the surface enough to allow the equipment to penetrate, but still hard enough underneath to support the tractor (with duals).

    If you turn the area in the fall, the sod and weeds will have the winter to rot, and you can hand plant on this surface as early as possible in the spring. The resulting surface will shake the fillings out of your teeth when it dries in the summer, but those deep roots will be spreading down below in the clay that is still damp from the winter rain.

    This is a multi year project, but as the soil changes, you will find you have more time on both ends of the season that the field or garden will be workable. You can add fall Rye to the program or use other deep rooted perenials like clover, plowing or tilling these crops under whenever you can. I wouldn't worry too hard about weeds at first as many of them work just as well as the seeded crops, and they tend to die out of a well worked field.

    For nutrients, if you are so inclined you can't do much better than chicken poop if it's available in your area. you can apply 5 tonnes per acre (more if you are going to till or disk it in). The suppliers should be able to direct you to somebody with the appropriate application equipment - our local Farmer's Institute rents a spreader for a very nominal fee. If you don't have the other equipment, contracting it with an operator can be surprisingly inexpensive. In 1 hour I can do three passes with the rototiller in our garden (about 150' x 120') which would cost you less than $100 (that's not an offer, I don't get to Kentucky often!). Five acres or more might run $500 per acre for mowing, deep cultivating, triple rototilling, fertilizing and seeding, plus the cost of seed and fertilizer. Subsequent years would be about half that.

    You still will have clay soil, but by working with it instead of looking at it as the enemy you can end up with a productive, well aerated garden or field. If you plant a crop that only utilizes the surface layer, then plant something deep the following year. Plant annual rye over the winters so it doesn't get the chance to form a surface pan or weed up.

    Hope this helps, Ralph
     

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