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YARD OVER PURE, HARD CLAY  RSS feed

 
tim Jeandrevin
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I am in the process of trying an experiment. I built my little cottage on property that is reclaimed old stripmine. The area around the house last summer was bare hard clay. Further out, the rest of the property is woods, and the leaves from the trees have created some topsoil and is starting to do real well, but the open areas, grow nothing. When the fall rains came, the dogs tracking muddy footprints into the house from the clay became a real problem. To combat this, and as an experiment, I put an ad on Craigs list wanting junk, moldy, or mulch hay. I got plenty of offers. The deal I took was a guy that said I could have the hay free, and he would deliver 3 extra large round bails to my house for $50 bucks. I took him up on the offer. Then in early November, I spread about 4 inches of hay over the entire property. We got about 10 inches of snow just after Christmas which really packed down the hay. When the snow melted, I went out and spread a good mix of red fescue, Kentucky blue grass, and perenial rye, right on top of the hey. I am hoping there is enough composting of the bottom layer of the hay for the seed to take root and grow right up through the hay. I am sort of creating my own topsoil so to speak.

Has anybody ever tried anything simular? Any thoughts? Im I nuts?

Tim
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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Tim,

It should work, certainly over time it will work. For you the key will be be mowing but not removing any of the cuttings; keep building up the organic material. You might even consider buying hay if necessary and reseeding as you did for a few more years. I have done similar with good results so you are not nuts anyway. If you can get a few wood piles or hugelkultur beds or even compost piles going to give the earthworms and other decomposers a place to build up their numbers faster so they can get to work faster for you it would happen quicker.

Otherwise mob grazing if you can. I have read of amazing results in a Bioneers publication on reclaiming old stripmines using mob grazing. Basically feed hay was spread and seeded so thick the cows could not eat it all, the cows spread manure and stomp and mix everything together. The next spring the growth was amazing.

Post back the results over time as you go no matter what happens. If it seems to not be working post up for other ideas or help if necessary. It is exactly these sorts of experiments that we need to be better documenting here. It is not necessary to get rigidly scientific but any/all details you can provide of course the better.

Best,

Jeff


 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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The junk hay/straw is high in carbon so I would plant alot Nitrogen fixing plants, esp ones with a nice root system.
I would also plant a few members of the mint family. they dont need deep soil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamiaceae
At the end of the year I would add some more junk straw and then add a full pasture mix.
You can also grow your own straw(winterrye/etc) and place it where needed.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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I noticed Prarie Moon sells a mix for growing on bare clay with no organic matter. Might be worth a try. http://www.prairiemoon.com/seed-mixes/tallgrass-exposed-clay-subsoil-seed-mix/?cat=346 I think with that you'd only mow once a year to let it get established. So not a lawn per se, but could theoretically build soil so in a few years you could have a lawn (if the wildflower meadow look doesn't grow on you).
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Renate Haeckler wrote:I noticed Prarie Moon sells a mix for growing on bare clay with no organic matter. Might be worth a try. http://www.prairiemoon.com/seed-mixes/tallgrass-exposed-clay-subsoil-seed-mix/?cat=346 I think with that you'd only mow once a year to let it get established. So not a lawn per se, but could theoretically build soil so in a few years you could have a lawn (if the wildflower meadow look doesn't grow on you).


That is a wonderful seed mix for the job. But at the $931 for 12lbs of seed, the price is excessive.
I would keep the list/ratio of plants but look elsewhere for cheaper prices.

Still that is an awesome find by Renate
 
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