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Permies Poll: What kind of soil do you have at your homestead?

 
master gardener
Posts: 2839
Location: Upstate NY, Zone 5, 43 inch Avg. Rainfall
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We all come from all around the world here on Permies and that means vast differences in soil.

What I am here asking today is what is the 'base' soil that you are working with on your homestead?



Reply to this thread about what this means for you and how you manage with it in order to achieve your different goals. Can you grow in it? Do you have to amend it in a certain way? Are you forced to try and build topsoil? Let us know!

 
Timothy Norton
master gardener
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When I filter out the big rocks, I have pretty okay soil for the majority of my property. Loam with some pockets of sandier or a bit higher clay content but mostly well balanced.
 
gardener
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Location: Tennessee
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Timothy Norton wrote:When I filter out the big rocks, I have pretty okay soil for the majority of my property. Loam with some pockets of sandier or a bit higher clay content but mostly well balanced.



!!!

Anyone with loamy, well-balanced soil has to pay a tax of  mailing a bag of it to me.

Here at the very outside edge of southern Appalachia, it is pure straight up clay. My yard is so much wet clay fire ants can't even build in my yard (pluses and minuses!).

I have to import soil in order to grow anything here. Bit by bit I am doing so.
 
master gardener
Posts: 2199
Location: Carlton County, Minnesota, USA: 3b; Dfb; sandy loam; in the woods
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I figure if a question is worth answering, it's worth answering to death! (I selected 'sandy' on the poll because I think that's the way my land contrasts most with most people.)

My 20 acres looks like this:


I don't know how to interpret all these data, but this is what I get when I look those soil types up:

Omega loamy sand - ~4%
Setting:
- Landform: Outwash plains
- Landform position (two-dimensional): Shoulder, backslope
- Down-slope shape: Linear
- Across-slope shape: Linear
- Parent material: Sandy outwash
Typical profile:
- A - 0 to 1 inches: loamy sand
- E,Bhs,Bs,C - 1 to 60 inches: sand
Properties and qualities:
- Slope: 12 to 25 percent
- Depth to restrictive feature: More than 80 inches
- Drainage class: Somewhat excessively drained
- Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): High to very high (5.95 to 19.98 in/hr)
- Depth to water table: More than 80 inches
- Frequency of flooding: None
- Frequency of ponding: None
- Available water supply, 0 to 60 inches: Low (about 3.6 inches)

Cromwell sandy loam - ~90%
Setting:
- Landform: Outwash plains
- Landform position (two-dimensional): Summit, backslope
- Down-slope shape: Linear
- Across-slope shape: Linear
- Parent material: Sandy outwash
Typical profile:
- A,E,Bw - 0 to 15 inches: sandy loam
- 2Bw,2C - 15 to 69 inches: coarse sand
Properties and qualities:
- Slope: 2 to 6 percent
- Depth to restrictive feature: More than 80 inches
- Drainage class: Somewhat excessively drained
- Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): Moderately high to high (0.57 to 1.98 in/hr)
- Depth to water table: More than 80 inches
- Frequency of flooding: None
- Frequency of ponding: None
- Available water supply, 0 to 60 inches: Low (about 5.2 inches)

Mooselake mucky peat - ~6%
Setting:
- Landform: Swamps
- Down-slope shape: Concave
- Across-slope shape: Concave
- Parent material: Herbaceous organic material
Typical profile:
- Oa - 0 to 6 inches: muck
- Oe - 6 to 72 inches: mucky peat
Properties and qualities:
- Slope: 0 to 1 percent
- Depth to restrictive feature: More than 80 inches
- Drainage class: Very poorly drained
- Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): Moderately high to high (0.60 to 6.00 in/hr)
- Depth to water table: About 0 inches
- Frequency of flooding: None
- Frequency of ponding: Frequent
- Available water supply, 0 to 60 inches: Very high (about 26.6 inches)
 
master steward
Posts: 14884
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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None of the above. From my profile:

Soil is alkaline consisting of caliche and clay.



My dirt, I don't have soil, is caliche which is ground up limestone.  It is definitely not clay or clay loam as in the below link.

I ask Mr. Google because he is so smart:

Most of the Edwards Plateau contains mottled yellowish clay to clay loam surface soil which quickly turns into rocky clay or solid limestone rock layers beneath the surface. Erosion has left most of the region with very shallow soils of less than 10 inches.



http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/texasEcoRegions/EdwardsPlateau/

More like this:

defined by its bedrock: very thick, mostly flat layers of rock composed primarily of hard early Cretaceous limestone



http://www.sbs.utexas.edu/fowler/linkeddocs/epveg/epgeol.htm
 
master steward
Posts: 6354
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
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My soil is silty. Between 0 and maybe 2ft over basalt rock.

digging a test pit


It looks a bit clayey here, but it was just sticky wet. I expect a thousand years ago there may have been a fair amount of peat in it, but the organic matter has disappeared over the centuries. I'm starting to get a bit coming back in the top inch....
 
pollinator
Posts: 180
Location: Middle of South Dakota, 4a
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Soil here is a mix of clay and silt, I voted clay because it's found in large patches whenever I did any depth. There was quite a bit in the "topsoil" I had brought in as well. I'm pretty sure there would be more if the land hadn't been gardened for so long. This was also a flood plain before they dammed a local creek about fifty years ago.

When we first got here we planted lots of daikon to break up the soil. Otherwise just adding leafy mulch and compost as often as possible.
 
gardener
Posts: 802
Location: 4200 ft elevation, zone 8a desert, high of 118F, lows in teens
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I grew up at a property with solid clay at the edge of a bog. That was where I first learned to garden. It took years and years to make topsoil, but it happened finally.  I learned a great deal in the process, including things I wouldn't want to repeat.  

My main thing I never want to repeat is using ruminant manure on virgin ground.  The reason is that virgin ground usually has few "weed" seeds (weeds meaning particularly challenging plants like quack grass), and ruminant manure tends to introduce those plants in spades.

Then my husband and I moved to the desert SW. The first property had almost pure sand. I learned a lot there, starting with the cool discovery that hugels still work in sand.

Then we moved to a different location in the arid SW.  It's been so surprising to see how different soil can be from one property to the next. We have friends on solid clay, others on almost solid rock, others on solid caliche, and we have two properties with totally different soils!

One has an alluvial round rock silty soil that has about 10" of rocky topsoil and then is 90% rock beneath that. The rocks are from boulder size, done to large gravel, but most are fist-sized. The topsoil at this property feels like flour.

The house we live at currently and are developing the property using permaculture- this is also where all my garden posts from 2020 to now come from- that soil is very sandy, a little bit of silt, and a tiny bit of clay.

That mix above makes an almost perfect adobe brick, which is what this soil feels like dry.  You can't stick a survey flag in the ground far enough to hold!

Fortunately when it's wet, it becomes malleable and dig-able.

We decided to use the zai pit method, modified like a desert hugel.  We dug deep beds, filled them with all the plant matter that we could find on the property plus kitchen scraps, then topped off with the plain dirt. We made these beds sunken so they collect water.

It's a lot of work initially, but has had a great payoff.  These beds were used for annual crops to help build soil and make fast food in the first year, and since have been transitioned to a full poly culture of perennials, reseeding annuals, and then interplanted high value annuals (like tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and cukes).

Most people who came out here and saw what we were doing shook their heads, and were internally commenting on how their new neighbors were nuts.

We heard a lot of clucking sounds, "you might want to add some compost" and "good luck with that!" Haha.

It took off faster than I expected, the plants and the soil creation. That was nice.

So we did have to create soil from dirt, and to do so we used plants and fed and developed the soil biome.

The ground here does not have worms naturally, so instead ants, termites, cockroaches, and crickets were the first transformers of plant material. Fungus grew into beautiful webs underground as well. And now we have soil that is becoming better each year.

This winter we finally had grown enough plant material to start mulching all the pathways. I can't wait to see the shift that makes. It will keep the ground cooler.
EF389D5C-67C8-45DE-A742-1895BC4B8DAE.jpeg
Bed being dug on right, beds on left being used for the first annuals
Bed being dug on right, beds on left being used for the first annuals
1E88B004-E271-4335-B041-63C4D69B4275.jpeg
Finalized sunken zai pit hugel beds
Finalized sunken zai pit hugel beds
5EFABFCE-4183-416D-B6AB-FD1BCD40C815.jpeg
Perennial polyculture garden in 2nd year
Perennial polyculture garden in 2nd year
 
Posts: 56
Location: South Central Virginia
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The clay here in southern Va is relentless. I started off with less than 1.5% organic matter and a good infusion of rocks to mini boulders. I have worked my butt off trying to improve it and it's come a long way. By the time I leave this earth someone should have a decent place to work with in the future. I have added many truckloads of compost and planted stuff purely for improving the ground.
 
software bot
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Last vote in apple poll was on April 22, 2024
 
Let your freak flag fly. Mine is this tiny ad on my clothes line.
FREE Perma Veggies Book! - Learn how to grow the most delicious and nutritious food with the least amount of work.
https://permies.com/t/238620/perennial-vegetables/FREE-Perma-Veggies-Book
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