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Hello! I’m still new to all the garden things and soil and composting but I am working in a community garden green house and I’m trying to fix up the soil in there and I don’t know what is up with the soil it gets super dusty and when we water it it becomes like mud almost i could take a handful and it will hold shape i was told it is too much drainage and I was told not enough drainage idk what it is

one idea we had cause in the area we live we have a lot of pumice and thought mixing it in could help the drainage if we don’t have enough drainage
 

Dirtmechanic

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Hello! I’m still new to all the garden things and soil and composting but I am working in a community garden green house and I’m trying to fix up the soil in there and I don’t know what is up with the soil it gets super dusty and when we water it it becomes like mud almost i could take a handful and it will hold shape i was told it is too much drainage and I was told not enough drainage idk what it is

one idea we had cause in the area we live we have a lot of pumice and thought mixing it in could help the drainage if we don’t have enough drainage
I think you have a silty soil up there, not clay. Does it glisten with mica? It is a fine dust but not as fine as clay.
 
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It does become very dusty and I’m not sure how to check for mica or really what it is and I have heard of the grounds around our area to be described as silty and the gardens soil is from the area it’s very dusty and becomes dry fairly quickly and then we try to like soak it to lessen the dust it get clumpy and clay like when it’s dry and fairly soft to touch
 

Dirtmechanic

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It does become very dusty and I’m not sure how to check for mica or really what it is and I have heard of the grounds around our area to be described as silty and the gardens soil is from the area it’s very dusty and becomes dry fairly quickly and then we try to like soak it to lessen the dust it get clumpy and clay like when it’s dry and fairly soft to touch
Are you in the valley near Palmer where the Glacier was past the interstate bridge? I lived in Wasilla for a number of years when my brother went to high school. That river looked pearlescent with silt. It was a common thing to see. And yes Alaska is dusty because of it. I lived in Bethel and on Kodiak island and it was a similiar soil made from the mountains. Same answer for many reasons, organic matter, but you will have better aeration and drainage than clay. At least silt will settle when you do the jar test with a tablespoon of soap. Clay will not settle and the silt will be the top layer but it might take a day or so to fall out of solution. I left my test to sit for 2 weeks and the water never cleared of the clay.

@Alasgun can tell you a great deal more.
 
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Ridgerunner

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Welcome to the forum from Louisiana, glad you joined.

I'm not sure what that soil is so can't get specific on how to treat it. There are two basic building blocks of soil. Sand is crushed rock that is inert, no electrical bonds on the surface. Clay is a very fine soil with strong electrical bonds on the surface. A lot of these properties depends on the rock they were made from. But there are all kinds of variations in between depending on the mix, grain size, what organics are mixed in, how it was eroded, transported, and collected, and how it has aged. Too many possible variables when I'm not familiar with the particular soil.

My suggestion is to contact your county extension office and see what it takes to get a soils analysis. Each State is different, some do it for free and some charge. I have no idea how Alaska does it. When you get the results chat with the extension office about how to amend it to get where you want to go.
 

flowerbug

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welcome to TEG from mid-Michigan. :) quite a long ways from rural Alaska...

i suggest adding any organic materials that you can find and encourage the worms to clump it together in their castings with the dusty silt. the main issue is wetting once it gets dried and organic material helps hold moisture so that is the contribution it is making aside from encouraging worm life. probably some kind of surface mulch would also help if it dries out too quickly once it gets warmer out. keeping it moist is probably the best approach as then you don't have to fight with rewetting each time. there might be wetting agents that can help, but i've never had to get into using those so i only have hearsay to go by and for that it was a suggestion to use molasses, i had to look that up and see it suggested mixed with ACV:

 
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We are in Bristol Bay Area we are by a volcano and the ocean
Are you in the valley near Palmer where the Glacier was past the interstate bridge? I lived in Wasilla for a number of years when my brother went to high school. That river looked pearlescent with silt. It was a common thing to see. And yes Alaska is dusty because of it. I lived in Bethel and on Kodiak island and it was a similiar soil made from the mountains. Same answer for many reasons, organic matter, but you will have better aeration and drainage than clay. At least silt will settle when you do the jar test with a tablespoon of soap. Clay will not settle and the silt will be the top layer but it might take a day or so to fall out of solution. I left my test to sit for 2 weeks and the water never cleared of the clay.

@Alasgun can tell you a great deal more.
 
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Welcome to the forum from Louisiana, glad you joined.

I'm not sure what that soil is so can't get specific on how to treat it. There are two basic building blocks of soil. Sand is crushed rock that is inert, no electrical bonds on the surface. Clay is a very fine soil with strong electrical bonds on the surface. A lot of these properties depends on the rock they were made from. But there are all kinds of variations in between depending on the mix, grain size, what organics are mixed in, how it was eroded, transported, and collected, and how it has aged. Too many possible variables when I'm not familiar with the particular soil.

My suggestion is to contact your county extension office and see what it takes to get a soils analysis. Each State is different, some do it for free and some charge. I have no idea how Alaska does it. When you get the results chat with the extension office about how to amend it to get where you want to go.
Welcome to the forum from Louisiana, glad you joined.

I'm not sure what that soil is so can't get specific on how to treat it. There are two basic building blocks of soil. Sand is crushed rock that is inert, no electrical bonds on the surface. Clay is a very fine soil with strong electrical bonds on the surface. A lot of these properties depends on the rock they were made from. But there are all kinds of variations in between depending on the mix, grain size, what organics are mixed in, how it was eroded, transported, and collected, and how it has aged. Too many possible variables when I'm not familiar with the particular soil.

My suggestion is to contact your county extension office and see what it takes to get a soils analysis. Each State is different, some do it for free and some charge. I have no idea how Alaska does it. When you get the results chat with the extension office about how to amend it to get where you want to go.
We are having the soil tested this month I believe thank you
 

Dirtmechanic

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I found it helpful to learn about how my soil is being made and how the environment acts upon it. Its sources, order- Its weather effects, suborder. These are your soils, but you will be more familiar with your micro climate that has impacted them. In AK the sea and the mountains really produce changes and lengthen the soil type list. I point this out because it can get expensive replenishing a soil with whatever nature is always removing. Given some soil background you may find you have choices about what pops up as a soil need. Your soil test will be interesting.
 
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ducks4you

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:welcome
Guess we KNOW where You live, from your name.
Normally I suggest starting to make your own compost, but it YOUR case, I would suggest buying compost and starting compost.
Compost is time consuming. It takes time for all of the microbes, fungi and worms to break it down for use.
Many people create their raised beds by clearing a space, laying down cardboard and dumping living soil inside for planting.
You can do the same, then add your compost next year.
I keep horses, so 1/2 of the year I pile up soiled manure, mixed with fine pine shavings, broken down pine pellets and straw. In 2 years, with NO work, I get some of the best soil.
In 6 months I can mix fresh soiled bedding with the other dirt and amend it.
SOME plants can grow directly into it, but most don't, similar to using coffee grounds, which do compost well, but really aren't a growing medium that many of us hoped it would be.
We don't judge here. I think we need a cheerleading emoji, bc we spend a lot of time doing that.
 

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