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Topic: Amending soil

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Subject: Amending soil
Date Posted: 1/28/2012 10:01 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2007
Posts: 3,365
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I know all areas have different types of soil - do you have to amend the soil in your area in order to garden, or is it "naturally" good?  Here was have thick clay soil and most people (myself included) build raised beds and fill them w/ garden soil in order to garden. Growing up, we had very sandy soil and dad added compost and garden soil to it for his garden. What do you do where you live?

Date Posted: 1/28/2012 4:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2006
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Oh heavens do we have horrible clay soil here in Oregon.  Many, many people use raised beds.  I have three that I haven't used too much yet.  The soil is impossible to dig in and holds water like a sponge.  You have got to work compost or top soil into it for it to work which is a lot of work.  I know this because we put sod down this summer and that's a project I do not want to do again.

It's quite a change from where I grew up in N. Utah where the soil was sandy and easy to grow in with virtually no amendment.

Date Posted: 1/28/2012 8:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
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I am lucky to have wonderful soil in my beds.  I am in NC.  Still, though, I like to work in some organic matter into the bed before I plant annuals for the year.  I have never figured out how to do that around established plants.  Do you just throw it on top, or try to work it in between the perinneals without damaging the roots?

Date Posted: 1/29/2012 11:46 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
Posts: 6,806
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The clay here is so dense you can break shovels on it.  I have however spent years digging it out and replacing it with peat, manure etc.  It is back breaking work and if I knew then what I know now, I think I would have just put decorative stones out there.

Date Posted: 1/29/2012 9:44 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,814
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Yes, I, too live in Oregon and suffer with the clay soil.  Hubby digs down as far as he can and we put in a good soil with manure as well as perlite to keep the soil from compacting around the roots.  We get lots of rain and the roots would easily rot without perlite.  I think it helps to form air pockets in the soil.  But the biggest thing we do is mulch.  Every year we get tons of leaves and mulch everything everywhere.  This really helps nutrition wise, I think.  I also use Osmocote as well as a liquid fertilizer mix I create.  I try to fertilize at least twice a month from April to October with the liquid fertilizer.  If you water alot, fertilizer will run off so keep that in mind.



Last Edited on: 1/29/12 11:48 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/30/2012 12:48 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,814
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Hubby just informed me that Jerry's Building Supply Store carries a special soil additive for clay soils.  We do not have any more info about it but the woman who bought it claims it helps to convert the clay to more amenable growing soil.  I don't know.  She bought a large tree and uses this all the time here in Oregon where I live.  May be worth a look see.

Date Posted: 1/30/2012 3:27 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2007
Posts: 3,365
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Deb, I have broken many a shovel on our clay soil. The first house we owned here we went to the trouble to "fix" the soil and it was backbreaking work! When we moved, we just started building raised beds anywhere we wanted to plant.

"they" say that adding sand helps break up the clay, but I've also heard that it makes it worse. Let me know how that soil additive works (and what it's called - we don't have that store here)

Date Posted: 1/30/2012 4:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,510
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Soil ? Oh yes, we do have some of that up here in the Ozarks. It separates the rocks, more or less. Most of it is clay-based and not too bad for growing except it has absolutely no basic nutrients in it. Since my idea of a garden hardly includes things like "raised beds," (I am working about 1/2 aacre; Uncle Wayne up the road aout three times that), all I can do to "amend" it is remove a ton or so of rocks a year and add fertilizer. The soil really needs nitrogen, which used to be pretty cheap. Nowadays, it is expensive and were you to buy as many as three little sacks, tghe Feds would probably raid you as a suspected tearist. I use maybe 400 lbs a year of 10-20-10 in the ever-shrinking sacks with the ever-increasing prices.

Date Posted: 3/5/2012 3:10 AM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2009
Posts: 112
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I have rather bad soil, but I have been hauling in manure and wood chips for years, and a lot of my planting areas are looking good..    Also, heavy use of cover cropping has helped.  In any event, you have to keep at it, because as the organic matrerial "burns" out, the soil reverts to the original. 

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/10/2012 4:37 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Our soil is ok here, but we still use raised beds with soil and compost from a nursery. The first year I gardened, we didnt add any compost or soil and we still had a great crop, but the weeds were horrible. So I have used raised beds or pots since (the last two years we only grew a few things in pots since we didnt really have a yard).