poor soil improvement- help needed
Posted 19 September 2009 - 05:33 PM
History/background: Recently I had rented a backhoe to make a backyard at my parents house (it was cut into a hill.) We live in the PNW and the new backyard currently consists of 6 inches to a foot of high clay content soil and rock/slate under that. The area is several hundred square feet and money is tight.
I was thinking I would purchase the cheapest straw or hay I can find and compost it following some of the recipes that I have for making mushroom compost. I am hoping that this will break it down quickly and kill off many of the weeds.
I am also hoping to do something similar with any manure that I can get cheaply.
I was planning on adding gypsum, lime and fertilizers in an attempt to balance the soil to the best of my abilities.
I had also thought about planting a cover crop, and starting grass next year.
If anyone has any experience or resources to share I would appreciate it.
Posted 19 September 2009 - 07:48 PM
best off luck to you
if you cant get a burn permit burn in small patches at night keeping the fire down most the time if your gonna get in trouble it on how much smoke they can see so try to control that too even at night
Posted 19 September 2009 - 07:51 PM
Instead of spending money on straw which you will then have to compost, why not try finding a local stable and asking if you can haul away some of their horse poo? It will be free and at the most to prep it you'll just need to lay it out in the sun to leech a bit before plowing it into the soil. Once it's leeched there won't be any smell.
Posted 19 September 2009 - 08:42 PM
Better to wait til right b4 it rains cuz otherwise the wind will blow it all over your neighbors place.
This is best done in fall, as then over winter the hay seed will sprout and you'll end up with a field of grass, and the old straw should compost on its own, in place.
If you want to kick things up a notch, get some clover or bell bean seeds from local garden/landscape store, and toss em out there in the spread hay.
The combination of legumes and grass, when cut and left on the field next spring will be just what the ground needs.
I know it doesn't sound like much, but you'd be surprised what a lil hay can do.
Next spring, when it comes time to garden, an easy way to kill existing weeds without disturbing the stratification of soil underneath is to just make layers of newspaper over your prospective garden, and then spread out straw (not hay). Then all you have to do is poke a hole in the paper and stick your veggie starts into the ground, keep things wet to continue the decomposition, and you'll be on your way to a healthy harvest, and recovered land.
I highly recommend purchasing a copy of One Straw Revolution by Masonobu Fukuoka, commonly referred to as Zen and the Art of Farming.
Posted 20 September 2009 - 12:14 AM
Cover crops or green mature is a good way to amend the soil. burning would also help if you have something out there to burn. You could add burned wood like from the fire place or wood stove. It add's carbon to the composting cycle. carbon is one of the factors in composting right. So good idea. Most people i know complain about clay soils cause their hard to work with, but think out this clay is the smallest of particles that makes up soil right. So by volume it can be the most nutritous and well generally need something added to break up it's hard packed nature.you'll want a well draining soil.
I have found adding horse mature/cow mature even chicken mature helps greatly. it's a must. boost nitrogen level
also look into this stuff http://www.fungi.com...row/index.html
It is a natural approuch to compost accerating.
Posted 20 September 2009 - 03:19 AM
If you have weeds, burn 'em if it's feasible. If not, just cut them down and let the natural composting process do it's thing. It's probably late enough in the season that the weeds have already seeded, so removing them would be an unnecessary chore. Some native weeds will actually only seed when they're burnt, but seeing as how you live in the PNW, you'll have no problems burning the plants. You may actually be best-off by burning them, as the seeds may not be able to withstand the high temperatures. Be VERY careful if you do burn, though, as you don't want to set your parents' house on fire. The most-commonly used practice is to clear all the way down to the dirt in a meter-long area around the entire perimeter of what needs to be burned, then waiting for a windless day. Wet the entire perimeter, as well as the walls of the house, and place someone at every corner. Start your burn at the corners and be extremely wary of any stray fires. If you can't burn and the weeds haven't seeded yet, cut them down and move them away from the yard, then plant grass seed. if the weeds have seeded, just cut them down and plant grass seed. There are plenty of grasses available that will grow even throughout winter. What you're going to want to do is create enouhg of a canopy for weeds to not be able to take root and grow. In the spring, just stay on top of mowing, and after 2-5 years, your yard will generally be weed-free.
Edited by Beast, 20 September 2009 - 03:00 PM.
Posted 20 September 2009 - 10:10 AM
Posted 20 September 2009 - 11:46 AM
Lots and lots of organic matter - compost, dung, etc.
If you use sand, use Very Coarse sand. The kids' sandbox sand, builders sand, silt etc. are too fine and won't help, or could make matters worse.
After harvest, plant a cover crop. Google it for suggestions for your climate.
A suggestion I see often is lots and lots of coffee grounds.
Chicken shit's pretty "hot" with nitrogen. A little goes a long way. But it's great stuff.
My dad's recipe for compost is really killer stuff. Leaves, cow shit, chicken shit, seaweed and/or kelp, kitchen stuff like eggshells, coffee grounds, veggie peelings etc. Horse poo is good too, but we didn't have horses nearby.