Post by ottawagardener on Jun 9, 2011 7:26:01 GMT -5
Wow, the old garden which had been repeatedly tilled (by previous owner) is a mixture of well drained grains mostly of sandy size. I was out barefoot in it and it was as hot as a beach! No need to warm the soil, during the day, there though mulch would really help to maintain the moisture.
Garden is a clearing in the woods grading from shallow, rocky soil supporting a maple bush to a pine forest planted on sandy soil and a clay bottomland with spruce and tamarack.
Post by prairiegarden on May 18, 2015 13:46:47 GMT -5
this may be a dumb question but going to ask it anyway. Plain clay kitty litter (clean of course!!) ... would there be any future in mixing a handful of that with a handful of soil when transplanting into desperately sandy soil? I was thinking it would maybe act like those water saver crystals (which supposedly don't work anyway, never tried them, don't trust weird chemicals in veggie gardens). Thought it might be a way to help buffer the transition from pampering to reality for the seedlings. and that will help the soil building process. It's bentonite clay - also used for lining ponds and such so the question might be if the plants can get the moisture out of it, maybe. Anyone ever tried this?
Post by longhorngardens on May 18, 2015 21:06:45 GMT -5
My first thought was hell no... Don't do that. Then I got to thinking that since it basically breaks down to slimy clay pretty quick, that would either improve the sand or turn it into concrete. Pick a small area and give it a try. I would be interested in seeing the results.
Personally if it were me... I would be dumping as much organic material as I could to that sand to rectify it as that is the only way I know to fix sand.
Post by prairiegarden on May 19, 2015 8:13:38 GMT -5
This IS bentonite,or so the package says, but it isn't exactly powdered form, which is why I was wondering about it. I was trying to use it to make a rocket mass heater but the test blocks turned out to be too brittle, so now looking for ways to make the rest of the bag useful.
Adding organic matter is central but one of the best ways to do that effectively (if you don't have animals which I no longer do) is to grow it then do chop and drop, especially if it's a large area like 25 acres or so as this is. This field has been a very curious/interesting field to watch as it tries to restore itself in areas that have had various combinations of organic matter (alfalfa hay fed free choice to horses in various areas of the field), where the wind has been blocked, and where I haven't been able to do anything but hopefully scatter wild gathered seed around, everything from plantain to clovers, brome and reed canary grass.
It's getting to be very iffy bringing in ANYTHING to put onto the soil as the new "norm" is to spray everything, including straw. In the first load of hay years back there must have been one bale out of 60 which had caught wind drift or something..the horses happilly ate it but where it sat NOTHING would grow for about 7 YEARS and even now, several years later, the soil is an angry, sullen black rather than a healthy dark brown. The plants that eventually started to colonize it were recumbant weeds, finally now grasses are slowly beginning to move in.
I'm so relieved that it was only one bale, no way at all to tell. Farmers routinely spray hay (and cereal crops) with glyphosate to dry it down these days, they have no idea what they are doing to themselves, the soil and the food we (and our animals) are eating.I think that bale had something even more lethal in it though, many farmers have "graduated" to 2-4D and even worse now that glyphosates have created resistant plants, insects etc.(As of course these new ones will do). Scary and very sad.
The main problem with trying to fix the fields is that it seems to be attracting all sorts of wildlife, which is fine for the deer and such, but the gophers I could definitely do without.. not enough yet to ask the gopher hunters out to shoot them but enough to damage anything I plant. Planted chestnut trees in area probably half a mile from where any gopher sign had ever been seen and within two weeks they were busy tunnelling from precisely one tree to another, just that specific. So frustrating, I lost all the seedlings.
I'm curious why you're concerned about the sand--it doesn't hold nutrients or water as well as clay, but it has advantages. Easy to work, and certain vegetables really like it (cauliflower and asparagus, for example.)
That said, clay does help with water and nutrient retention. Most people I know who've added clay put it into the compost pile. (Humus needs clay to form.) But if you're more of a no-till, compost-in-place kinda gardener, just sprinkling clay in with the organic material you add would be fine, the worms and fungi and microorganisms would help you work it in.
Growing in a coastal zone 7a in the Northern Hemisphere. Hot humid summers and cold snowy winters. Plenty of rain. Sandy loam topsoil over clay subsoil, whatever the glacier left behind when it made Long Island.
" transplanting into desperately sandy soil? I was thinking it would maybe act like those water saver crystals (which supposedly don't work anyway, never tried them, don't trust weird chemicals in veggie gardens). Thought it might be a way to help buffer the transition "
Prarie; beware the water crystals;......do a small test area first, like three or four potplants for two years. My kids used disposable nappies.....and I got to looking at how they really soaked up the liquids....and tried separating the crystal section out (pre-fertilised, you understand..) Hydrating in a wheel-barrow, then mixing into our home garden. Beach-sand soil mostly of rhyolite volcanic ash been washed into dunes . Great fix for the water holding capacity; but I think it killed off most of the worms and then locked up some of the other clay goodies.
Ten years later, with minimal deep digging (now I leave that deep layer alone )and overlays of cleaner soil, trailer loads of sheep manure from woolsheds, and all the compost just as a top layer 100 mm (4" ) thick, I get to grow sort-of OK veges again.
Bentonite has been mixed in and is OK. Some of our hills have enough of it to keep slipping away at anything above 10 degrees slope. In the garden, pound it into a powder, and mix it dry into the dry sandy soil.....maybe even use a concrete mixer to do the stirring..? then do the wetting. Big wet lumps I stirred into my garden were still big wet lumps four years later..I bring them to the surface in summer to dry out, crumble them some and mix them back in.. Works eventually. That was about two barrow loads as a bit of a fix after the water crystals whoopsie.. sigh.
That bale of hay....possibly the hay paddock was sprayed with a broad-leaf weedkiller to knock down the thistles, which are are a pain-in-the knuckles to the guys picking up the bales....or a pain-in-the-lips to the horses and cows eating it. Your guess on 2-4-D is as good as it gets. For the home gardener, beware getting compost or lawn mower clippings from neighbors who have sprayed with moss-killer or any broad-leaf weedkiller....the tomatoes, spuds and a few others literally curl up their toes, leaves and stalks ; My father blamed it on the fresh pine sawdust I had spread around his plants...until it kept happening from his own compost heap of lawn clippings (with grass from a neighbor)up to a year later.
Sawdust seems to be OK,for both sandy and clay soils; but just about need to mix in an equal weight of nitrogen out of a bag if it is fresh off the saw.....again beware "treated" timber sawdust. And so we learn, slowly.
Post by prairiegarden on Jun 3, 2015 23:21:43 GMT -5
yikes about the nappies! it SOUNDS like it should have been a great idea. Nothing is ever ONLY what it seems to be these days though. It's also very useful to hear about your experience with bentonite. I crushed a couple of handfuls to mix with potting soil to try to make seedballs, with no success whatsoever, it seemed that they would need to be almost pure bentonite to stick together but perhaps it wasn't crushed enough.
Amen on the treated lumber sawdust , which also means places like cabinet shops are out as almost all are heavy users of composite or OSB board with its various glues and resins. OTOH I started out with a couple of raised beds from a farm equipment place, 8 feet long, 2 feet wide, about a foot deep (they start out with bottoms) and aside from slugs loving them they have produced some wonderful veggies for me and indeed even a very persistent rhubarb plant which appears to be determined to live no matter how completely it's ignored. The bottoms must be rotted out now as this spring a groundhog tunnelled up into one and ate all my peas, all that was left was the hole in the dirt in the corner of the box.
You can always use urine with sawdust, takes care of the need for extra nitrogen and at least you know it's not contaminated with anything. I've never noted any smell at all.Just like with biochar. OTOH I ran into a note the other day about using urine to chase away gophers so perhaps that's double the value.
Trying to figure out how to access spent coffee grounds without having to drive into town every day, which would be highly counterproductive. It's hard to figure out a way to make it worthwhile for the coffee shop and still have the grounds in containers that are moveable, the grounds are soaked with water and so are HEAVY. The industrial garbage haulers are designed to lift such stuff.. a dolly and ramp are not the equivilent, and I'm not sure I'm strong enough anymore to wheel a 55 gall drum full of wet coffee grounds up into the truck. Once THERE, I can always take them out by the bucketful but getting them there would be a struggle.
Post by prairiegarden on Jun 4, 2015 11:09:59 GMT -5
They seem to just dump them into an industrial dumpster. I don't THINK there's any way to access them will have to check again or maybe try to talk to the owner and see if he has any ideas.. the problem there is trying to track him down, he seems seldom to be in town.
Don't do that. Then I got to thinking that since it basically breaks down to slimy clay pretty quick
I've used some brands of kitty litter as substrate in fish aquariums. It is common for those with home aquariums who want to grow real plants without spending a lot of money on the substrate. It is great for growing plants, given the high cation exchange capacity. It holds nutrients really well and does not allow them to leach out. You just have to find brands that do not turn to slime. Some are worse than worthless and a complete mess.
Hartz pH5 was one that works fine. One product that is even better, is Oil-Dri. That is is a clay used for cleaning up oil spills. I believe it is baked, so it does not turn to mush. You can buy it commonly in automotive centers of stores like Walmart. It works great, since it stays solid. When I took down a few fish tanks last spring, I dumped it into my potting soil and used it in my potato bins to hill with.