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Red Clay in South Tennessee  RSS feed

 
M Pimentel
Posts: 4
Location: Tennessee
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Hi everybody.

I recently purchased a trashed out parcel of land which has taken a lot in getting cleaned up. My goal is an edible forest garden with a small herd of dairy goats browsing along some of it. Right now, the bulldozer, which was required to unearth the tons of trash left by a series of renters has left the clay bare. How do I get started in returning productivity and health to this? Please keep in mind I am not rich and live sustainably simply. I don't have a lot of resources but can take a long range approach. The front of the property is much better and will be planted soon. The back of the property is wooded and relatively clean so will be left as is. It is the middle section which was so trashed that only leveling all of it, including the trees which had sprouted on top raw metal, broken glass and treated wood, could begin to address the danger there. But now it is bare. How do I begin? Thanks.
 
Willie Shannon
Posts: 28
Location: Southeast TN
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Hey there, welcome to permies!

I live in Meigs County, TN, not sure which county you are in. Red Clay is the norm around here.

How quick are you looking to get the soil fixed?

You could gather the leaves from the back side of your property for a couple of seasons, shred them and compost them and after you have a good amount of leaf mold spread it over your soil.

You could also obtain sawdust, usually free if you are willing to pick it up from a sawmiller, and manure from a cow/horse/pig farmer to create a nice back to eden type soil over your bad spot.

Another approach would be to just create large compost piles with manure, grass and sawdust for a few seasons and spread that over your area.

If all that doesn't sound appealing, you could haul in topsoil from somewhere else to cover it.

The last resort:
 
Joe Camarena
Posts: 76
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I lived in TN and amending the soil there well enough to grow in is tough under regular circumstances. Sounds like you do not even have any topsoil left. Basically you need to add organic matter and lots of it.

Do you live on the property? Get some electro netting and start moving animals around the property. Chickens would probably work best. They'll eat bugs, fertilize the ground and then move then to the next parcel.

Other low cost options would be to get 1-2 local tree trimmings services to start dumping their ground up wood ships on your property. You can then innoculate for mushroom production in the fall or simply let them decompose into soil over time.

Last idea I have, and have done, is find someone with horses. They will have more manure than they know what to do with. Mix with your wood chips and compost it. Spread the wealth around the property. HTH,

Joe
 
M Pimentel
Posts: 4
Location: Tennessee
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Thank you both. Very good ideas and very doable. Thanks!
 
Karen Walk
Posts: 122
Location: VT, USA Zone 4/5
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I live in Vermont and also have clay soils. I posted a few weeks ago in the sepp holzer forum about water landscapes and clay soils. The thread diversified into a general discussion on rehabilitating clay soils, so you might want to check it out:

http://www.permies.com/t/33650/sepp-holzer/Water-Landscapes-Clay-Soils

I started with goats on the land last year. They will eat almost anything, but they don't eat everything. They are quite choosy eaters. When the reach down and take a bite they are very particular about what types of vegetation actually make it into their mouths. They are diverse eaters who seem to prefer bushes and trees to grasses. They are great animals, fun to watch and generally friendly, but you will need to be careful with them as you start your food forest. I can see them doing well in a mature food forest, or in clearing land, or in rehabilitating land before planting a food forest. In my young food forest, I have to make sure that my electric fencing is well placed and has a good strong charge in order to keep them from stripping the little trees.
 
M Pimentel
Posts: 4
Location: Tennessee
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Thanks for the link.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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