Fixing soil

digitS'

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I wish that I could say, "oh, just go buy some bagged compost and that will make everything better." Well, there may be commercial products out there that are just perfect but I don't know about them. Admittedly, I don't buy bagged compost but the potting soil available that is supposed to be partly some perfect compost has lately been disappointing.

Even bagged, composted manure isn't always of high quality, IMO. Nevertheless, it isn't a bad place to start. A Better Place may be in your local feedlot, dairy or horse corral.

Another commercial product that can disappoint is top soil. In many cases, it is a mixture and, way too often IMO, has too much partially-composted wood in it.

I have used a lot of a mix of my own compost, bagged top soil and peat moss for growing potted perennials here at home. Additionally, there are several pots of annual flowers with this mixture. My potted tomatoes at the foot of the back steps are in 100% homegrown compost. But, those pots of those mixes will go in the compost this year for next year's plants. So, there is soil in my compost.

Often, the potting media is just buried in a 48" wide garden bed. Imagine if it started there. Let's say, large plants spaced every 3' with the very best mix that I can come up with filling a hole 24" wide and 18" deep. Okay, I have my tomatoes and cucumbers for the season. Maybe, squash and broccoli, a couple of kale plants ...

Till the bed at the end of the season and I wouldn't be surprised if that ground supports 3 rows of beans the following year. Back to the heavy feeders in year 3. And so, it might continue.

Steve
 

heirloomgal

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Do not use pine for compost, rather burn it for char carbon. This has to do with the lack of Lignin in pine since lignin is a very basic food structure with unique properties for both the forest floor and the white fungi that Alice must have followed down the rabbit hole. Lignin is a none pine thing. You can lay it on top, oxidation is the same as burning, but pine is not the breakfast of champions for the biodome.
Dang, @Dirtmechanic you have a remarkable understanding of soil and these very fine principles of chemistry. You posted some time ago that once your soil reaches a certain, very high, point of fertility it can actually start becoming excessive and have a reverse effect on fertility. I had no idea about that. I guess so many people struggle to get the fertility up (the organic gardeners for sure), that the possibility of overdoing it never makes it on the radar.
 

Dirtmechanic

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I wish that I could say, "oh, just go buy some bagged compost and that will make everything better." Well, there may be commercial products out there that are just perfect but I don't know about them. Admittedly, I don't buy bagged compost but the potting soil available that is supposed to be partly some perfect compost has lately been disappointing.

Even bagged, composted manure isn't always of high quality, IMO. Nevertheless, it isn't a bad place to start. A Better Place may be in your local feedlot, dairy or horse corral.

Another commercial product that can disappoint is top soil. In many cases, it is a mixture and, way too often IMO, has too much partially-composted wood in it.

I have used a lot of a mix of my own compost, bagged top soil and peat moss for growing potted perennials here at home. Additionally, there are several pots of annual flowers with this mixture. My potted tomatoes at the foot of the back steps are in 100% homegrown compost. But, those pots of those mixes will go in the compost this year for next year's plants. So, there is soil in my compost.

Often, the potting media is just buried in a 48" wide garden bed. Imagine if it started there. Let's say, large plants spaced every 3' with the very best mix that I can come up with filling a hole 24" wide and 18" deep. Okay, I have my tomatoes and cucumbers for the season. Maybe, squash and broccoli, a couple of kale plants ...

Till the bed at the end of the season and I wouldn't be surprised if that ground supports 3 rows of beans the following year. Back to the heavy feeders in year 3. And so, it might continue.

Steve

About 4 years ago I dropped 27 bags of contaminated black kow into the garden and suffered for 3 years. All you can do is till it to help it oxidize away and add lots of organic matter. Never again.


Dang, @Dirtmechanic you have a remarkable understanding of soil and these very fine principles of chemistry. You posted some time ago that once your soil reaches a certain, very high, point of fertility it can actually start becoming excessive and have a reverse effect on fertility. I had no idea about that. I guess so many people struggle to get the fertility up (the organic gardeners for sure), that the possibility of overdoing it never makes it on the radar.

Just reading. The lignin I learned about from an article on ramial wood at the dirtdoctor site. Long read but hey, gardeners in winter have time for that activity. The white paper about the point of diminishing returns found 30% starting to be too much. Thats a lot. 2-5% is sort of regular. Compost disappears pretty quick. Thats why I have become a charcoal fan. Less work and I am not getting younger.
 

flowerbug

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Dang, @Dirtmechanic you have a remarkable understanding of soil and these very fine principles of chemistry. You posted some time ago that once your soil reaches a certain, very high, point of fertility it can actually start becoming excessive and have a reverse effect on fertility. I had no idea about that. I guess so many people struggle to get the fertility up (the organic gardeners for sure), that the possibility of overdoing it never makes it on the radar.

it certainly has here for some plants i've grown. one season i had green peppers that would not produce much but their neighbors the red peppers put on a huge crop in comparison. only difference was that i'd amended that whole row with worm compost.

as of yet i've never seen squash/melons or tomatoes get upset at how much worm compost i put under them. on the other hand i've had bean plants rot when planted in too much worm compost (then the next year what gets planted in that same spot does much better).
 

flowerbug

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i tend to work in three or even four year planting cycles. i don't need a lot of heavy fertility for all my crops so i rotate plant through the gardens where i've started by amending the rows with the worm compost. since i am growing in a lot of clay it does help to add wood ashes and sand for better drainage, but that has been a gradual process.

the best results i've gotten in soil tilth has been from cover cropping with alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil and the winter-wheat and winter-rye. it takes about three years for the alfalfa and trefoil to get fully developed roots down through the clay and the worms love chomping on them every time i cut them back and leave it on the surface but all that nitrogen fixing and organic matter will turn your garden soil a shade or two darker within a few years. what then happens is that the weeds come in because they also love that nutrient laden soil and all those worm trails down through the clay make it easier for the roots to get down in there too. i have an area that went from compacted and near barren to being very fertile because of this repeated cutting back and letting the green manure feed the soil. that whole area was meant to be turned into a strawberry patch but the deer put an end to that until i can get it fenced and proteced.

pb270003_Looks_Great_thm.jpg


 

ducks4you

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ducks4you

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Although nobody can guarantee that horse manure doesn't have weed seeds, those owners that feed just hay (or complete pelleted feed) in a show stable probably only have hay and/or straw seeds, and those are easy to weed out.
Horses are VERY picky eaters. Every time I see one of mine eating a burdock, I ask them WHY they won't clean all of them up?
They give me the same look as my cats, when my cats respond with, "Stupid giants!..."
I once bought a 50 pound bag of soybeans and added them to my herd's sweetfeed. ALL of my horses ate around every single soybean, cleaning up all whole oats or cracked corn.
I wasted my money.
They like dandelions, and like clover but it's not their favorite. This time of year ANYTHING green looks good. With my open fencing you can see that the first two feet beyond any fencing is clipped short.
LOTS of weeds are totally ignored.
They tell me, "If I was STARVING, I'd eat that."
So, I wonder, when people write these articles, WHAT weeds are they referencing?
Horse owner since June, 1985
 

Jane23

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Although nobody can guarantee that horse manure doesn't have weed seeds, those owners that feed just hay (or complete pelleted feed) in a show stable probably only have hay and/or straw seeds, and those are easy to weed out.
Horses are VERY picky eaters. Every time I see one of mine eating a burdock, I ask them WHY they won't clean all of them up?
They give me the same look as my cats, when my cats respond with, "Stupid giants!..."
I once bought a 50 pound bag of soybeans and added them to my herd's sweetfeed. ALL of my horses ate around every single soybean, cleaning up all whole oats or cracked corn.
I wasted my money.
They like dandelions, and like clover but it's not their favorite. This time of year ANYTHING green looks good. With my open fencing you can see that the first two feet beyond any fencing is clipped short.
LOTS of weeds are totally ignored.
They tell me, "If I was STARVING, I'd eat that."
So, I wonder, when people write these articles, WHAT weeds are they referencing?
Horse owner since June, 1985
The horses visited my property last night. I collected two containers of manure and added them to my compost bin. I need to post a picture of it. It is a welded tank that I can turn as I want. It doesn't look pretty, but I hope it will do the job I need it to do.
 

Jane23

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Pretty is never important.
The door is a little sad. I used a grinder to cut it out. I added rubber tubing around the edges to prevent myself from slicing myself up on sharp edges. I think it is too small, but I can add stuff next to it, let it break down for a minute, then add it to the tank later. At least those plants I will not be immediately digging into the garden. I know it will take years, but I hope to have usable soil eventually. At least it is not hardpan clay, so I know it can have good nutrients; it will just take a while to work with it,

The last time I turned the soil, I noticed a lot of the clay had sunk to the bottom, so the top layers are better. Pine needles, straw, compost, and time will be the tools I need now.
 

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