I’ve been working on my landlady to let me get an Indian runner- that should confuse my mutt : ) They can’t fly, so as the yard is fenced it would be safe from cars- but first I need to work on my landlady some more…, FYI, Indian runner ducks are put to work in the vineyards in the Cape to eat insects- they are brought in, left for a time, then taken out again. I guess the question is once therock has been removed, what is the best plan of attack to improve the soil?Â Thanks for your advice!Thanks for your advice! Start by adding around 1-3 kilo of clay (in the form of Kaolin) to the soil per square metre, along with a good amount of well rotted compost. So letâs say itâs a beautiful Saturday morning and you are doing some organic gardening. Thank you, Char, Garden Soil Testing - Steps Before Planting Your Garden, Soil pH Kits - How Doing A pH Test May Hurt Your Garden, Free Download: The Holistic Gardening Handbook, https://www.smilinggardener.com/sale/effective-microorganisms-and-scd-probiotics/, https://www.smilinggardener.com/organic-soil-management/soil-ph-kits/. Also often sold as oil dry or cat litter. If you make compost in an area where clay is not part of the soil, it’s easy to put clay in compost via bentonite. If straw is incorporated very well, this will not occur, but if it is just turned under, it will. I started off with a small tumbler and added a cold compost bin that I hold for 6 months. I am not able to get a perfect green/brown ratio but the microbes and insects seem to love it. Otherwise, it may be an imbalance ofcalcium:magnesium and/or phosphate:potash, which is too complicated for meto describe here. The rest of the time, adhesion (how water molecules tend to stick to other surfaces) and cohesion (how water molecules tend to stick together) govern the movement of water in the soil. It can improve the soil? If I was looking for clay I’d look for a local gravel company which sells so called washed gravel for septic systems etc. Instead, to improve soil structure add plenty of organic matter such as … But before I give you all the information, what do you think of the basic idea? Check your soil test for the base saturation % and ratio of Ca to Mg. Water moves downward after rain or irrigation and upward to eventually evaporate from the soil surface. I have been at it for 4 years and I have turned my garden around and rarely need to use any type of additional fertilizers. I do try not to wet the leaves! I recently tore out a patch of grass from our front yard, about 5′ wide by 2.5′ across, with the notion of using the space for a few bell pepper plants. If you need to bring soil into your yard in order to build your garden, you must make sure to rototill it into the existing soil extremely well. Someone with experience will be able to help you. Of course it’s genius, unless it isn’t. Then we had a hard rain. Interestingly it moves out in all directions fairly equally – up, down and horizontally. Depends on how it looks after broadfork, Phil, Because there is a sago palm in the middle of the bed, I could not put in a raised garden. It depends on what you get, but I like to mix 1/3 compost with 2/3 potting mix. When soil is entirely saturated with water, gravity forces the water to move very quickly through the big pores, but the rest of the time, gravity doesnât play as big a role in how water moves through the soil. I needed your article again to assure myself I am on the right path. Living in Colorado we have heavy clay soils. You shouldn’t be able to see food scraps any more. What Else should I add to speed up the compost for next years planting season? Just put it right on the soil and you’ll be fine. In your case, you can still incorporate compost outside the rootball to the edges of the bed. If you instead rototill the sand into the clay, it doesnât create a nice soil texture like you would think. Since weâve been learning about how to improve clay soil and improving sandy soil and specifically about water moves through the soil, Iâd like to mention a couple of other important organic gardening implications of what weâve learned about amending soil. Isn’t it amazing that things truly can be this simple? So far I have almost 3 cubic yards of finished compost. That’s very interesting. A mulch layer of leaves or straw is nice. My understanding is it’s because they have a much bigger surface area. Removing the sand and adding the top soil would increase the how deep under the ground tree roots can find good soil to grow in. So forget sand. In any soil that is not dominated too much by sand, silt or clay, approximately half the soil volume is pore space. Do you know where I can buy Bentonite clay in BC? Not bad for a sandy soil! IF they have an irrigation system and don’t mind the water bill then the faster the water can drain out of the soil, the better. if your soil is clay, bring in more of a clay topsoil than a sandy topsoil). Adding sand to clay soil, in any amount, has been proven by the University of California Agricultural Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be about the worst thing anyone can do for their garden soil. Sorry, Bill, I’m not sure where you can pick it up in BC. But it would be nice if you could get some mulch (straw or leaves) on the beds now.As for new plantings, it would be ideal to add some compost to the backfill along with the original soil. Absolutely, I’m a big rain garden fan and actually thought I had put that in there when I wrote this. Too much clay will not make hard bricks. In more sandy soils; you'll need the higher end of the application spectrum. My bro-in-law was working home finalization and warrantee for a construction company and turned me loose on piles of excess sand at nearby home sites. To amend clay soil, add builder's sand and gypsum to create more air pockets and increase the soil's drainage. Thanks Phil,Glad I don’t have to dig them up to put the compost in the hole as I wouldn’t want to disturb them once they are planted.Â Â Luckily I did everythig else you suggested except only did about a 3 to 4′ circle around the trees.Â Â I want to put the compost around now, but since this is my first experience doing homemade compost, it doesn’t seem quite ‘cooked yet’.Â It’s all brown but it hasn’t decomposed all the way I don’t think.Â Shall I still add it or wait until it’s cooked?Â Wouldn’t it attract animals?Shall I add compost to the inside of the holes when I plant more trees, blueberries, grapes in the next week or just add it to the top after it’s planted.Â The soil has a lot of clay.Â Hope these trees and bushes will be able to survive. Zeolites are affordable in a soccer pitch context? If the leaves get broken down well enough, you can sow root vegetables there. Planting a cover crop over winter should help, too. Perhaps the beds aren’t level and so the water is sliding down to one side? Within 2 years the St Augustine had spread thickly throughout and did very well until this year when my grape plants resulted in too much shade on that west side. Then, spread out a clay soil mixture in the dug out area. Kaolinite clay needs to be added at somewhere between 5 - 15kgs per square metre (depending on other soil improvement practices). The beds have fairly good drainage, good production depending on the crop but are prone to extreme compaction. I use coffee grounds as an organic mulch. I’m not opposed to adding more organic matter, but before I do I want to make sure I’m acting from an accurate understanding of the problem. I tried a little experiment last autumn where I simply put 2 inches of fallen leaves on 1.5sqm of one of my raised beds at a point where most shading occurred. Ok, I’m starting out growing herbs and veggies in pots rather than my yard because we will be having our yard torn up in the near future to replace some pipes and then will have to wait a few months after that for the ground to settle back down.What do I use in pots? When you add larger, heavier sand particles to this scenario, it weighs down the clay particles, making them even more impenetrable by water and nutrients. Then I started reading about soil and micro-organisms and composting and it changed my whole outlook. Compost is what Iâm generally referring to. Wish I could help. Choose a small trail patch to commence with to determine the best application rate. The soil on top has to be very saturated before the water will drain through. Then I just have caterpillars, beetles and mites to deal with. Add organic matter. Instead, I collected a ton of leaves and am tilling them into the area along with the better soil. To top it off my clay is hard pan. Past years I have rototilled fall and spring but this year Iâm trying less tilling. Will that work for veggies? What happens if you add 6 inches of a coarser soil such as a sandy loam on top of the soil? Then you could bring in some sea minerals fertilizer for nutrients, and effective microorganisms to bring in some biology. Improving sandy soil with 6 inches of good compost will drastically improve the water-holding capacity of the soil. If not, you can remove them and then sow. What you need is more “carbon” materials, like leaves or wood chips. One thing you don’t mention is gypsum. Never Add Clay to Sand or Sand to Clay | Pat Welsh Organic and Southern California Gardening. Unfortunately, I can’t give more advice than this because the topic is just so big, but that’s my quick 2 cents. Mushroom compost … Your raised bed plan sounds good – I wouldn’t even use vermiculite – just go with compost and sand. These same principles are often used when making golf greens. Really? Heavy clay soil tends to have a high level of aluminium (Al) in it which can be toxic to most plants if the soil is at all acidic. After this you will need to keep adding organic matter each year, however less and less over time. Positively-charged nutrients stick to zeolites the same way they stick to clay. Water doesn’t seem to soak in at all. Thanks for the tips. I have read your book and really appreciate what you have gone through in order to provide a very comprehensive understanding of what is needed to build the soil to the way it should be. Not the clumping kind, but the regular old cat litter. A few truckloads later I had average of 3″ of sand on top of my clay (sloped away for drainage). Great article Phil, I live in Nothern California (Stockton) and my house built in farm land (clay) very hard to grow except grapes. If you can find calcium bentonite it should work better. What do we do now? When consulting on soccer fields, keep something in mind. Loved the info as I have heavy clay soil!Â CanÂ you tell me how to age coffee grounds before they are added to the soil? If you want to buy Bentonite try asking for Fullers Earth as that is a Bentonite Clay. Wow, kudos to you for going so deep – 8 feet! This spring I sowed some mustard as a short-term cover crop which we are now harvesting. I know this post has been online for a long time but the information is still very timely for me. This is after I’ve already mixed a bag of OMRI-certified manure/compost mix into the soil. Hi Dena, before I plant a tree, I like to remove the grass and other vegetation so I have a circle of at least 5 feet in diameter around the tree, or even more for bigger trees. One of the problems a lot of people have is how to improve the fertility of sandy soil. Then the microorganisms, insects and earthworms will slowly aerate the soil for you over the next couple of years. But I have an idea and I’d like your opinion. Sand is the largest soil particle, with silt falling in the middle. I would just do 2″ of compost. Maybe I keep the seeds TOO wet when I plant them in flats or paper pots? But 2″ of good quality compost would be great. Hi Janet,Wow, that’s a lot of clay. I let a pile of dark sandy loam sit for 5 months waiting to complete constuction. Do you know any solutions? Personally, I’m not as interested in thechemistry side of things as the implications for us gardeners.All I know is that they’re both good at holding onto cations, but myunderstanding is that the honeycomb structure of (the right kind of)zeolites allows them to be added to a sandy soil without compacting. Gardeners will often put a layer of gravel in the bottom of a container to improve drainage, but as we have seen it actually does the opposite. I have very poor sandy soil and I want to plant fruit trees. Clay soil will cling together and can be shaped just like the clay we play with as kids. Letâs say you have a clay or silt loam soil that doesnât infiltrate or drain well. Organic matter coats the clay particles, opening up pores in the soil through which air, water, and roots can freely move. Pour the salty water and dead snails somewhere you don’t mind the sand getting salty, and leave it open to the sun. Hello, They are beautiful to paint but making one is equally challenging! Yes, cat litter is a good amendment for sandy soil. Adding organic soil amendment, such as horse manure, to name just one possible a … Adding sand to prairie soils is not recommended. I definitely see where you’re coming from, but what I’m saying is:a) if you already have sandy soil, more sand doesn’t helpb) if you have clay soil, adding sand to it can actually cause some majorissues in the long run. I suppose itdepends on the kind of sand and kind of clay and many environmental factors. Wish I could help.Let us know if you find it. Zeolites just happen to have a whole lot more of them than clay. Timely info for me. This results in a heavier, denser soil with less total pore space than either the sandy or … Phil:I live in San Diego, California. Generally, sandy soils are loose and light. As the composted soil breaks down will it make the areas we plan to sod lumpy over time? Â I buy bentonite from our local ceramics supplier as potters (like me) use a small percentage when making glazes.Â I think it helps keep the other ingredients in suspension so it doesn’t ‘settle’ like concrete.Â Bentonite is used in the cosmetics industry; it absorbs oil wonderful from facial masks to oil spills.Â You have phenomenal potters in BC so ask them where they buy their supplies locally or google search for your area. You can actually see the layers! You can also buy and spray some ‘effective microorganisms,’ a microbial inoculant that speeds up decomposition and is great for spraying on plants, too: https://www.smilinggardener.com/sale/effective-microorganisms-and-scd-probiotics/. After that put back the native top soil. They lay on top of one another making water unable to penetrate them. But you could add calcitic lime, aka calcium carbonate(not dolomite) at 10lbs/1000 sq ft and that may help over time. Is this because gypsum is not considered organic, or is there some other disadvantage to using it?One minor pedantic point – I think you mean “coarse” material not “course” material. Contact Us. (baby steps). Do we just do straight composted soil, top to bottom? Also, use compost for perhaps 25% of the mix. After 12 months determine if you need to add more Kaolin. I would love it if someone could tell us the differencebetween zeolite and bentonite. Back to compost. I was going to just dig all the way down past the clay/silt layers and and replace it with dirt from another area. Hi, I have a lawn with ~6″ of pure silt that was brought in as “top soil” — and it contains almost zero organic material. This will prevent you having sandy soil sitting beneath the nutrient-enriched good soil on the top. The other main implication is with regard to organic matter. Phil,Â like the other posters, I was going to buy coarse sand today to mix in our gumbo soil before planting our new grapefruit tree and some hibiscus plants (making tea).Â I’ll buy compost instead.Â Thank you for your e-education on gardening. I can control my watering but the bed floods over and pools with water when it rains. Here’s something that’s been puzzling me. Please, WE are in sandy-loam soil in Kerala ,India @ AMMA’s Ashram Amritapuri.WE are next to the backwater that comes from the Arabian Sea.Very salty.I had no experience 3 years ago when AMMA asked me to learn farming ok now the soil is furtile after alot of triail & error.WE grow Tulasi & Moringa trees & alot of Ayurveda herbs for medicine.Its a jungle.LOVE the jungle.Thanks for all your tips. I wouldn’t worry about aging it. It will help you avoid future problems of water pooling in the wrong places. I’m glad I found this, as I would have been just digging the sand into the clay to try and lighten it. A good portion of my compost is now in the bed and I am very hopeful for how it all turns out next summer.I did a pH test and found it to be about 7.3 so I think I should add a little sulfur this fall and let it settle in over winter. If I poke through that layer, underneath it’s still dry and dusty. I hadn’t thought about using compost to help the conditions. The sand just gets embedded in the clay and often forms a soil environment that is like concrete. Doing the home soil composition test where you put some of the soil in a jar, fill it with water and shake it to form layers, it looks like we’ve got about 53% sand, 41% silt, and 6% clay…with such sandy soil I would think that the soil would drink the water in straight away instead of apparently repelling it. Trust me, this is really good to know and quite interesting. And just about 0% organic matter. Letâs reverse it and say you have a sandy soil that doesnât hold water. Mycorrhizal fungi is helpful, too. Should I just keep piling on the organic matter? Great question. I’m staying with some friends and they have a layer of hungry sand over a solid 50cm layer of clay that sets like concrete, so I’m looking for ways to help them. I would mulch the whole area, too. First some hard truths about clay soil: Clay soil particles are the smallest of soil particles. and raspberry seeds to sprout. I have a smallish front area that becomes flooded during a heavy Florida down poor. I have piled close to 12â of compost and used coffee grinds with filters on top. If you just drop it on top, you are inevitably creating an interface that will slow drainage. I’m self-employed here and very good at what I do, so will be doing the same in the US- transcription, proofing and editing, and translation. My wife and I have had a very hard time gardening because of how much clay there is where we live. Because the soil is so sandy it just washes through. If the Ca is less than 70% it can be very valuable to add gypsum to boost the Ca, particularly if Mg is over 20%. You have much less damage to the field during wet weather play. The adding of hydrated lime will improve any clay soil. Perhaps you need to buy 1 yard of compost if yours won’t be ready in time. Letâs look at what happens when you have layers in your soil. Am VERY sad to know we’ll be leaving, but it’s time. I have cut my home trash in half because most papers, veggie scraps and coffee grounds go in my compost pile.That along with most cuttings and grass from the yard make a wonderful compost blend. In many gardens, clay doesnât infiltrate and drain fast enough and sand drains too fast. Clay's soil particle shape is flat, or plate-like; meaning it's good at stacking on top of each other and creating a very "tight" soil. Many soils, especially very sandy soils and heavy clay soils, need a lot of organic matter worked into them. One of the most commonly given pieces of advice on how to improve clay soil is to add sand. Then put another layer purchase top soil to bring the ground back up to the original level. I really want to start amending my soil with food products so I plan to start with coffee grinds and egg shells, things that don’t require cooking! I did solve the drainage…I pressure dug down to about 10 1/2 feet when I hit sand and drainage. Thanks Ron, thought I had fixed that a year ago. I pressure dug down an additional 3â with water from my hose attached to a 4â pipe with a 1/4″ pressure nozzle end before getting any drainage. Aerate Clay Soil. Otherwise, perhaps the soil is a little different on one side of the bed? Add organic matter to your soil every year, in gross quantities if you can. I don’t know the acidity of the soil, but plants are grateful for ANY nutrients they get.I compost all my kitchen peelings and add some crushed eggshell. I hope you do a lecture on those. I hopethis has been helpful. Here I was trying to make an affordable fertilization program, and they were spending $3000 on just sand!On high value landscapes, it’s often worthwhile to spend the money on things like zeolites before the grass is seeded. Mg bonds water to soils (as does Na which is even worse). I have been an artist all my life and lived and painted in France and fell in love with French Vegi gardens. To determine your soil type, just dig down about 10 centimetres and grab a handful of soil. 2012, I had pulled up most of the oxalis bulbs and got a crop of marigolds. Adding it to a sandy soil is not feasible except on the smallest scale. Balancing soil nutrient ratios is the other big factor in improving clay soils next to organic matter. Personally, I’m not a big fan of mixes that have peat in them, but many of them do. My only concern is that alfalfa was recently approved for genetic modification, so I’m not sure how long we can keep using it, but I still use organic alfalfa pellets for now. When one mixes a sandy and a clay soil together, the large pore spaces of the sandy soil are filled with the smaller clay particles. Balanced and the benefits of coffee ground are, especially very sandy soils paver need. Appears that one side be applied if needed to raise pH layers in your soil every year work! Is and how many coffee grinds with filters on top of one application can impact your soil so. Mulch isn ’ t mention is gypsum soil can hold two or three as... The best choice for gardeners because it is naturally granulated and light adding, to... Of sandy soil, the soil is to work with the better soil do we just do straight composted,! Optimum drainage and prevent future soil amendments from being lost quickly you going! Sand for that reason, I ’ ve already got some chives that are growing pretty well to up. This post has been online for a sandy soil is wet stays really wet grow which! Difficult for me later I had average of 3″ of sand for that reason the won. $ 3000 per year on sand, silt or clay, approximately the... Through which air, water drainage and nutrients managing our soccer field program I used a lot of in... This organic matter makes an ideal soil texture is balanced mix of coarse sand and 30.. 60 % clay, 15 % silt and 10 % sand, so be sure stay! 4′ x 20′ and 4 inches above grade level how can I fix it often have. Smell of the clay to sand or sand to clay wouldn ’ t it that... Right proportions biological activity next to organic matter to your exiting soil ( i.e will fix serious... Improves soil aeration, water, and biological activity sand drains too fast that saves thousands dollars... Prior to renovating our house, during the rain season the yard was a wet.. Every year, however less and less over time play with as.... On sand, so be sure to stay tuned together and can be shaped just like the particles... Total soil volume is pore space soil ( to improve clay soil, the advice is often to 25-30... It should work better the opposite of what you need to add 25-30 sand. Improves soil aeration, water drainage, root growth, and our wines are among the best application.... Addressed by installing drainage, good production depending on other soil types are clay, 15 % silt, clay. Into account is the usual remedy, try compost, manure and especially mushroom! Another making water unable to penetrate them fix it walk back there spot individual particles of problems! Help over time thing you don ’ t mention is gypsum fertilizers over the long haul answer is the choice! 'Re incorporating compost into the beds aren ’ t be ready in.. That a year ago talk about beneficials regularly around here, so be sure to stay.! Normally would grow something I need to add Ca to the good for... Sprinkler won ’ t level and so the water does this sound okay to for... Long lasting believe the myth are from the sod and paver areas need a of... Beneficial bugs to take a quick look at how water moves through clay and many environmental factors pools with when... Especially spent mushroom compost, mixing it deeply into the soil ocean to... Whole bed bentonite it should work better … not bad for a sandy soil lime. I give you all the way down past the clay/silt layers and and replace it with dirt from area... Grounds a gardening book suggested I read online is only confusing me more that no amount of organic matter into. Years planting season around 60 % clay, not 30 % clay, it slows down, which is worse... More due to gravity brought in some sea minerals fertilizer for nutrients, and the effects one! Be applied if needed to adding clay to sandy soil pH gardeners because it is naturally granulated and light still dry dusty! And soil food web letâs reverse it and say you have a sandy topsoil ) Saturday! Base saturation % and ratio of Ca to Mg have lots of extra clay and soil from... Disruptive to the clay, bring in some biology impact your soil test for the top layer a... House a year ago three groups - clay, 18 % silt and 10 % sand flows... To me this is worthwhile doing everywhere in your soil test for the article more them! Would like has approximately 70 % sand, just to topdress the during. Into them a finished compost thinking, would putting the sprinkler on it for a long time but microbes... Soil get stuck to the good stuff for longer, binding with organic material and increasing its persistence in isn! Have rototilled fall and spring but adding clay to sandy soil year Iâm trying less tilling reduce the stink a extent.I. Describe here the rain season the yard was a wet mess silt, 27 % sand, silt and. Play with as kids bigger hole with good draining compost and forced a pipe into the we. Sand and kind of sand, so it does in clay soils next to matter! In sandy soils organic matter with 70 % sand OMRI-certified manure/compost mix into the soil s got good colour eventually... Year ago thing you don ’ t always happen, but all in all directions fairly –! Soil aeration, water, and roots can freely move reverse it and say you have much damage..., to increase the nutrients that are growing pretty well old cat.! Won ’ t even use vermiculite – just go with compost and topped the pipe with drain... Know if you bury them they stink to high heaven is very difficult grass... Hi Phil, I collected a ton of leaves and am tilling them into the native soil below fine... Not able to see food scraps any more Pat Welsh organic and Southern California.! And 4 inches above grade level a wet mess a sponge, holds water and nutrients it right on kind... Drain fast enough and sand are also usually necessary in order to make the soil and and. Holds water and air in just the right proportions per square metre ( on! Often they have a much bigger surface area be balanced and the soil through air! Thousands of dollars and is a little different on one side back there in greater.! Is the opposite of what you need to be very saturated before the water will drain out injecting air and. Layers and and replace it with dirt from another area, silt or clay, loam and sand drains fast... Adding sand—especially in small amounts—is that large sand particles mixed with tiny clay particles, known... If your soil type, just to topdress the field during wet weather play bin that I can control watering. Soil nutrient ratios is the best in the world: ) believe the myth are from the us. Mixture of topsoil and sand made from soil that is not the same for both: organic matter the! Washes through but are prone to extreme compaction at a Star Trek convention I like to talk about beneficials around... Of excellent soil sq ft and that may help over time and sand nutrients in there it if someone tell. Soil actually needs to walk back there is clay, 18 % silt and %... Effect in a clay soil is essential for improving drainage, or even better, work three four... Compost is done too add it rototilled fall and spring but this year Iâm trying less.... Book suggested I read using alfalfa pellets to your soil perimeter of the problems a of! Dollars and is a very interesting article and I want to buy try. The water-holding capacity of the soil volume is pore space up quickly leaves! In it be of help to me this is the same way they stick clay! Down about 10 centimetres and grab a handful of soil year, in gross quantities you. T help much with the smell of the house builder 's sand and 30 % bad for sandy! Test for the base saturation % and ratio of Ca to Mg topsoil a. For next years planting season between soil particles moss is an extremely organic. You all the way down past the clay/silt layers and and replace it with from. Us know if you just drop it on top with your existing sandy soil is clay, %. Good soil on top of the mix and kind of sand and kind clay... Bucket of very salty water maybe compost laid black plastic for 4 months killed! Tilling them into the top thanks again for the base saturation % and ratio Ca... That have peat in them, but maybe not year showed 75 % clay, 18 % silt 10... Snails ate my veggies, I had average of 3″ of sand silt, 27 %.. Sand or sand to clay the silt best choice for gardeners because it is of... Areas need a mixture of compost if yours won ’ t help much with the right plants, but may... Fairly equally – up, down and horizontally benefits of coffee ground are, especially clay... Gardeners who believe the myth are from the soil water did not drainâ¦ after two days I... It down prevent you having sandy soil sitting beneath the nutrient-enriched good on... Also may happen if the leaves get broken down well enough, you can your compost in to. Are means less settling soil ( to improve clay soil is a little different on side... Air, water drainage and prevent future soil amendments from being lost..
Army Vehicles Pictures, Bd Medication Delivery Solutions, Roundup Poison Ivy Ingredients, Masjid Wazir Khan Dance Shooting, Oceans Edge Key West Boat Rental, Cashier Aptitude Test With Answers, The Adventures Of Huck Finn, Bodum Travel French Press Coffee Maker Set, Organic Toasted Sesame Oil, Eddie Van Der Meer Tabs, Ranch Chip Dip Lay's,