Fixing soil

flowerbug

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Our total property is 1acre-ish
My garden is expanding but slowly simple because I don't know how to kill the grass easily 🤣🤣

chickens will eat it. fence off the area and let them run in there and they'll get it all scratching. after a year move to a new spot and garden in the one where the chickens were at. no work at all other than moving the fence each year.

the other more work approaches i do when i want to reclaim the yard here from the grass is to dig a deep hole, scrape off the top layer of sod and bury it in the hole and then put a few layers of cardboard in that hole over the sod and then put about a foot of dirt on top of that. it is very rare for anything to come up through that here. the different kinds of grasses are all different in what it takes to get rid of them. some i don't bother with any cardboard layers over them because they grow from seeds and the seeds are buried deeply enough that they won't sprout. other grasses like quack grass will come back from bits of roots and running roots that grow outwards from the center so i do have to bury those pretty deep and put cardboard over them so that they can't resurface.

the surface smothering using cardboard trick and woodchips as mulch will work too, if you don't have wood chips you can put a few layers of cardboard (overlapping the seams) and then put some garden soil on top to hold the cardboard in place, but you won't be able to grow things in there until the grass is smothered (a year or two depending upon the type of grass). it's pretty rare anything i've smothered will live into the third year unless it's escaped through a crack in the cardboard layers.

repeatedly tilling and raking the bits of grass and roots up and leaving them exposed to the sun to dry out (or feed them to the chickens). it's also a lot more work than i will do here, but some areas of quack grass need more than one attempt in this mostly clay soil before i can track down all the roots. so it depends upon how much time i have as to how long it takes me to clear an area. since i don't have a tiller and do everything by hand shovel it takes a while to go through all the clumps of clay to find all the roots. in more sandy soil it is often easier to remove things.
 

Jane23

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I got one of those test kits from my local store to try to learn about the ph, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash levels. I will try it in the next few days to see where I stand. The soil is not bad soil; it just has too much clay. I have access to tons of cow poop (fresh and aged) and hope that will help in the next few years, along with a lot of organic materials from the compost container I just started. It should be ready for next fall's soil.
 

digitS'

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to see where I stand.
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I can't think of a better way to say this. Understanding is so very important. What was it Isaac Asimov said ... "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them." And then, there are more of those down-to-Earth statements by soil scientists ;).
 

Jane23

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😄

I can't think of a better way to say this. Understanding is so very important. What was it Isaac Asimov said ... "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them." And then, there are more of those down-to-Earth statements by soil scientists ;).
He might have, but his books are still in the piles I must read. I am extremely busy between soon-to-be two jobs, building, repairing a car, and completing a second bachelor's degree.

Oh, and my garden, which is where I prefer to be, but soon it will be closed for the season. I have already closed one and added aged cow poop to break down into the soil; the others are slowly closing. I don't think I will do a cover crop this year, so aside from leftover "bits" that fall off my plants, should I add anything in particular? (I'm testing to ensure what I can add for next year, but any advice would be helpful).
 

digitS'

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You of course will be careful with the manure, right?

The TEG southern gardeners might be astounded by the Winter that you are likely to have. Those months may the best help you can have for preparing your garden soil for 2023 - after the manure amendments.

Be sure to check with your Montana Extension Service. It's their job to have locally specific information available for you.

Steve
 

Jane23

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You of course will be careful with the manure, right?

The TEG southern gardeners might be astounded by the Winter that you are likely to have. Those months may the best help you can have for preparing your garden soil for 2023 - after the manure amendments.

Be sure to check with your Montana Extension Service. It's their job to have locally specific information available for you.

Steve
yes, I will. The manure I usually add is already aged past a year, and anything new would only be added to "closed" beds in the fall. I don't know if it's a weird thing to keep a bag of cow chips around in my shed for a month on end.o_O
 

Jane23

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I bought the luster-leaf kit. I have not used it yet. I have been too busy. It comes with a handy chart, so you can gauge what you need to do with your soil for growing various types of fruit and vegetables, etc.

 

Jane23

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I bought the luster-leaf kit. I have not used it yet. I have been too busy. It comes with a handy chart, so you can gauge what you need to do with your soil for growing various types of fruit and vegetables, etc.

I used the test kit on several parts of my garden. The ph is fin, but everything else is low, which is not surprising. My soil is clay, so it started without nutrients.

I am working on shutting everything down for the "long term" to take care of my soil. I will not be able to plant anything in it until, at the earliest, the end of March, so I am loading it up with cardboard, newspaper, and pine needles right now. In another six months, they should be broken down to some extent.

Does anyone know anything about composting pine needles? I know it will take some time to break down, but they are already brown, and I have noticed the soil under the trees is pretty good. I was also reading how it is a good mulch, and I think I will add it to my garden next year as general soil protection and slow nutrient addition.
 

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