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Author Topic: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?  (Read 3517 times)

NewGen

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How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« on: February 23, 2012, 12:21:07 PM »
The soil has been called clay-like and alkaline by a landscape company when I first moved in. I've added different things over the years to improve it. I never really followed any schedule when I made the amendments. I've dumped many bags of "compost" (bought at Home Depot), calcium sulfate, steer manure, chicken manure. These were done at different times over the last 4 years. It must have helped some, because last month when I was planting a persimmon, I noticed there were more earthworms, and the ground was easier to dig. In addition to the "amendments" above, I also dumped grass cuttings and all the leaves that fell off from the trees where they are, to act like a mulch layer. So what do you guys think? Should I use "compost" again, or the manure, or anything else?

Thanks,
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 02:09:54 PM by NewGen »

Saltcayman

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2012, 01:52:42 PM »
A great place to start would be a soil analysis. Then you would know exactly where you stand.  A good alalysis will provide suggestions on what and how much to add.  In my expeience, mulching is a good thing. I compost in place by Layering green and carbon based materials that still allow water and air to pass through them. It is called lasagna mulching by some. The soil forum at gw has tons of great information.  Dave

nullzero

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2012, 02:01:27 PM »
I would just continue doing what your doing. I would also consider a cover crop like 'Ground Hog' radish, would help with aeration and also used as green manure.  Consider mulching with pine bark/pin needles as well. http://www.growingproduce.com/article/14049

Salty, brought up a good topic. Lasagna gardening works out well, I have done it and gotten great results. I would find more information on the subject and read about the benefits.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 04:29:28 PM by nullzero »
Grow mainly fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

FlyingFoxFruits

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 02:28:09 PM »
The soil has been called clay-like and alkaline by a landscape company when I first moved in. I've added different things over the years to improve it. I never really followed any schedule when I made the amendments. I've dumped many bags of "compost" (bought at Home Depot), calcium sulfate, steer manure, chicken manure. These were done at different times over the last 4 years. It must have helped some, because last month when I was planting a persimmon, I noticed there were more earthworms, and the ground was easier to dig. In addition to the "amendments" above, I also dumped grass cuttings and all the leaves that fell off from the trees where they are, to act like a mulch layer. So what do you guys think? Should I use "compost" again, or the manure, or anything else?

Thanks,


Have you looked at the literature on www.ecofriendlyonline.com ?

There are all sorts of small organisms that enhance a plants over all ability to cope with improper ph, and other complex environmental factors.

When your trees are struggling with yellow leaves and reduced vigor, due to improper growing conditions, consider things like:

mycorrhiza

Humic and Fulvic Acids

Lignin

Natural Carbon

Trace Elements


These are things, that the product I rant and rave about, contains!

I don't see why more people wouldn't prefer to use fertilizers and supplements, that are eco friendly, and safe to get all over a baby duck, your dog/cat, or even your kids, or your own face!  :blank: fill in the blank!

Oh well, I know the world won't be organic, and that poison ivy is organic...and lethal...so to each their own...just grow fruits that taste good, and aren't radio-active :o :'(     ;)
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 02:30:00 PM by ASaffron »

zands

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2012, 05:47:28 AM »
Wood chips. They should decompose quick enough in Central Valley. I know it might be difficult to get a tree trimming, stump grinding company to drop them off for you . But this is commonly done in South Florida. Apply as a 6-12" mulch. And let nature take its course. Maybe add some earthworms. Maybe do this 2-3 times. This is very dense biomass....denser than leaves or grass clippings.  AFAIK wood chips are the most dense biomass.  In hot parts of USA they will melt down quickly into black humus. Black due to so much carbon. And carbon is at the center of all organic chemistry and carbon based life forms.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 02:15:02 AM by zands »

Ethan

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2012, 01:57:17 AM »
Sounds like you are doing a great job already, if you want banana leaves or p-stems come by and we can tie them on the top of the car. :)  They make great mulch.

-Ethan

Jacob13

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2012, 08:18:10 AM »
Hey Newgen,

I had the same problem with the soil at my place being so clay-like.  So. everytime I cut the grass or there were lots of leaves to pick up, I would go over them with the lawn mower to pick.  I would then dump all the grass and leaves I got from mowing onto the soil and then dig it in and turn it over into the soil.  It works great.  After a few times of doing this, the soil is no longer rock hard, it has a completely different composition, and you are recycling your green waste. Even ask your neighbors for their grass and leaf mower clippings; the more the better.

Again, you could just dump it on top, but I found I got better results by digging it in/burying it, as well as spreading it on top.  You'll be surprised how quickly chopped up mowed grass and leaves decomposes.   You'll get this wonderful black humus type material that is great for the soil.  Within a few months, you'll have completely different soil.  It does wonders for drainage as well.  I'd leave the heavier yard clippings and green kitchen waste to compost bins though.

 - Jacob

NewGen

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2012, 08:12:17 PM »
Sounds like you are doing a great job already, if you want banana leaves or p-stems come by and we can tie them on the top of the car. :)  They make great mulch.

-Ethan

My wife would kill me if I stuff her car full of banana leaves.  ;D Wish I had a pickup truck.
Trung

NewGen

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2012, 08:13:27 PM »
Hey Newgen,

I had the same problem with the soil at my place being so clay-like.  So. everytime I cut the grass or there were lots of leaves to pick up, I would go over them with the lawn mower to pick.  I would then dump all the grass and leaves I got from mowing onto the soil and then dig it in and turn it over into the soil.  It works great.  After a few times of doing this, the soil is no longer rock hard, it has a completely different composition, and you are recycling your green waste. Even ask your neighbors for their grass and leaf mower clippings; the more the better.

Again, you could just dump it on top, but I found I got better results by digging it in/burying it, as well as spreading it on top.  You'll be surprised how quickly chopped up mowed grass and leaves decomposes.   You'll get this wonderful black humus type material that is great for the soil.  Within a few months, you'll have completely different soil.  It does wonders for drainage as well.  I'd leave the heavier yard clippings and green kitchen waste to compost bins though.

 - Jacob

Thanks Jacob,
I can ask the grasscutting people to just dump their stuff on my yard, instead of hauling it away.

Trung

sultry_jasmine_nights

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 09:05:29 PM »
I am in NE FL. Our soil is better than some parts of FL but still very sandy, especially on some parts of the property (almost 4 acres).  We started composting our chicken manure from the coops. I keep pine shavings on the floors of my coops and in the nest boxes and then just add it all to the compost bin once a week. The pine chips break down very quickly into a rich black soil and the earthworms love it. We also add some of our chickens eggshells into the compost for added calcium as well as all the yard clippings, coffee grounds, etc.
You can go to Starbucks and they will give you coffee grounds in huge trash bags for free which you can also add to the compost pile. 

Last year, we built some vermicompost bins underneath our rabbit hutches (even if you can't have chickens, you are likely to be able to have rabbits).  We get a lot of nice worm compost from those bins which can be added to the garden or to your pots.  Rabbit manure can go straight into the garden without even being composted...it doesn't burn the plants even when it is fresh. You can also make worm compost tea with it. If you have your own rabbits they are cheap to raise and make awesome cheap worm compost.   It can be quite expensive in the stores.
Craigslist is a good place to get free horse, cow, or goat manure.  Some zoos will also let you have it.
Growing edible and ornamental tropicals and subtropicals and many night bloomers on 4 acres in zone 9a. Learning to live a more self sustainable lifestyle with chickens and other livestock.

Guanabanus

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Re: How can I improve the quality of the soil in my backyard?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2012, 06:59:35 PM »
Lots of good ideas on this thread.

You don't want grass clippings from Weed-and-Feed-treated yards, even if you are not interested in going organic.

Lasagna gardening sounds tasty!  I call it sheet composting--- fresh trimmings and garbage on the bottom, even whole banana trunks, then dead dry leaves over the top, preferably altogether about 1 1/2 feet deep.  No turning necessary.  When it gets down to 3 inches only, repeat, indefintely.  Use commercial fertilizer on top for for the first couple of years;  after that you probably won't need to.  Failing to add fertilizer the first time you sheet compost may cause nitrogen deficiency.

If you are a he-man I guess you could improve an unplanted area first by covering your sheet compost with some of your hard soil, moving along in parallel strips.  It is true that this will improve your soil much faster.  Once you have trees you don't want to be digging into their roots.
Har

 

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