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Breaking up clay is hard to do

 
pollinator
Posts: 49
Location: Ohio river valley Kentucky zone 6b
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We have a bag of grass seed we're planning on planting as soon as it cools off. Yes I think I've got a pretty good idea of what I want to grow....ALL THE VEGGIES!! We're doing raised beds on the sunny side of the yard and the middle front yard I want a mix of flowers and purple veggies, rainbow swiss chard, and red lettuce, snuck in here and there, the leaf pile side is next to undeveloped land so I want to have my yard birds over there. Geese, ducks, chickens, pigeon, quail ect. I also want some rabbits and bees. Then in the back it's sloping some gentle some steep and in the very back there's a creek that's pretty dry unless it's flooding, then it's trees and...I'll give ya one guess...VINES!!! So after we get rid of all the vines and harvest some trees back there I want to, have pastures for my birds, have an area to try to grow my birds some food, hydroelectric waterfall that empties in to a pond, terrace it, build decks, have an above ground pool. I want to plant fruit trees and berry bushes, paw paws, persimmons, cigar trees and other trees that would be good for wood working and use for smoking meats. I mixed the charcoal like stuff left over from our bon fires into the swamp garden but I don't know if it was enough. I'll take a picture of the back yard and better pictures of the leaf pile side where I want my birds. I have about an acre to work with not sure if that includes the house. So I should sprinkle something on the lawn until it's cool enough to plant the grass? I have some chia seeds, bird seed, mung beans, and field peas and lentils. Problem is it's really hard to get the water hose over there. I'll find a way though. Thanks again for all your advice you're just lovely!
 
master gardener
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Jackie Bodiou wrote:We have a bag of grass seed we're planning on planting as soon as it cools off.

Is the seed at least mixed grasses or just a mono-culture? I'd suggest you look at what you can add to the grass seed (or simply allow to re-seed from the bird seed you're planting sooner) that would make the lawn area a more permaculture-friendly Polyculture. I have English daisies and Johnny Jump-ups in mine, and I also put down crocus bulbs to come up early spring. I adjusted my lawnmower to cut 4" high which *really* helps the soil by both encouraging deep roots, shading it, and supporting worms and microbes. Think shag rug look rather than Berber carpet! It takes some people a bit of time to accept longer grass, but once I saw how much longer it stayed green without needing water, I was sold on it.

The rest of your plans sound good - and delicious! If you can find a way to make lots more biochar out of salvaged woody material, I think it would help with your clay soil, but I admit I don't like to chop living stuff down just for that. However many types of trees respond well to removing some branches - it actually can make them live longer if you read about coppicing in England - so if you're thinking of removing some trees anyway, that may be helpful. I try to use trees for building first, firewood second and biochar third, to get the most out of them.
 
Jackie Bodiou
pollinator
Posts: 49
Location: Ohio river valley Kentucky zone 6b
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Oh darn Jay, I had written a big long reply of my plans of what I want to do with my property but I guess it didn't take. I'll take more pictures and be able to explain it better to you. Today I pulled more vines, pulled some weeds and tucked them under the leaf mulch, trimmed up the bottom leaves of my tomato plants, thinned out my mustard greens and volunteer cantaloupe, I planted green onions yesterday and trimmed them up because some of the leaves were withered, watered my new hosta my neighbor gave me, checked on the moisture level of the soil of my pepper plants and it still doesn't seem dryer to me so I'm holding off on watering them. My problem pepper has a new flower so I guess it's doing better! One of the cayenne peppers is finally red. I have one tomato that should be ready to pick in a day or two. My naked lady lillies are blooming and I have new blooms on my rescue phlox is pushing out new blooms as the old ones wither. After only 2 weeks after transplanting. What a champ! I planting these everywhere next year.
download-2021-07-29T081102.051.jpeg
Naked lady lillies
Naked lady lillies
download-2021-07-29T080951.878.jpeg
Phlox
Phlox
 
gardener & hugelmaster
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Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
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I think you're definitely on the right track Jackie. A few more soil enhancing cover crops I didn't notice mentioned that might help in your area are fava beans, buckwheat, Austrian peas, hairy vetch, any sort of brassica, daikon &/or other tillage radishes, turnips, & winter rye. Cowpeas & peanuts also help break up hard clay but I'm not sure if either of those will grow in your area. Oats might also help. Nitrogen fixers, things with deep roots, & dynamic accumulators get the job done!

I recently ordered & planted several pounds of most of these things from American Meadows & True Leaf. Reasonable prices & fast shipping. Not my first hard clay rodeo:)

The thing about dumping gas on the wasp holes ... please don't do that to your soil.

 
pollinator
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Location: Australia
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Hey,

Many great points and advice previously stated.

My main points are,
try and imagine a clay particle its a like a plate, that's smaller than 0.002mm
These are easily stacked and compressed, in to hard firm well arranged stacks that can make it hard for plants to make roots in.

With clay what you want to do is get fungi in there, to help build up the clay and make it liveable for plants,
this is why adding wood chips is useful,

you want to add organic matter yes 100 percent.
Many comments about this have been provided with methods of cover crops and biomass crops as well as accumulators the hugel master before stated an amazing list, which is something that is really great for European and American lands, I would add Lucerne to this list, and add potatoes as an option as it has a long history of being used for this purpose in Ohio, as well as the University of Ohio has great research into Clay soils, (" I do not support this university, Sarah Letchford is my Hero").  I have had significant suggests with this method as it is cheap and easy low effort the potatoes grow the soil pores die and replicate. growing mycelium and growing beneficial bacteria, adding organics, encouraging worm Arousal.

I am not against Tilling with clay as going full no till is something that has benefits but I am all for the use of vertical tillage and use of the ripper tool.  accelerate the process.

The French methods of gardening with double dig and using significantly higher amounts of compost work well, but is less effective in terms of resource usage.

An improved method is African rotation circles,


Biggest key point is reduce the flow of water down hill.
this can be from building gabion walls (trincheras). swales, key lining, flumes, Levelling the ground and the list goes on.

But you do not want to add sand or you can get even stronger compacted soils,
But high angular igneous gravels have benefits.

Returning to fungi, the benefit of this in micro and macro conglomeration of soils occurring during high performance situations around root hairs.

this can be done artificially with gypsum,

It can also be achieved though other processes but my current understanding of the other methods is that these have been proven to be toxic and also not practical.

Reducing loads applied to the soil is a big one, is it walked over a lot maybe add a path,

Aeration is extremely beneficial in improving clay soils, I prefer to use an aerator tool and keep the soil in place.


Bio turbation,
use of worms, dung beetles, ants, termites, rodents, is an additions system to include,


Like wise reviewing the PH of the soil to make sure that the process of development with flora is optimal,

Another plant that is beneficial is acacia`s as this encourages birds, and also adds nitrogen, as well as being well suited to clay soils.

A key point is always keep the soil covered,

allow any cracks in the ground to be undisturbed this is the tilth cracks,

Also do not burn on top of clay, it creates hydrophobic soils surfaces,
Also avoid putting coffee grounds directly on top of clay soils.

Also a great idea is to regularly check the soil drainage and test the turbation, using the hole method and jar method,

and if you can compost directly underneath the soil using a worm tower that is awesome.

and look up elaine inghams work, as well as Christina jones work.

YouTube has various 10 minute simple agronomy videos explaining various components involved.

If you are really interested look into soil mechanics and soil physics!

But lets face it soil mechanics is more of an art than a science, and most research into soil charges is primitive!

Additional information in regards to mulch depth in colder climates which have snow falls in important to look into 3 inches appears to be a common suggestion.
The best soil researcher in terms of icing is di chow do not know how to spell his name only know him in person, think Asian Heisenberg.

additional tests involving organic mater and moisture content require the use of a ceramic bowl a set of scales and a microwave, see YouTube.

this should be enough to get you started in the right direction, it will take you about 200 hours from there to get proficient. another 1000 to get good!

Hope this helps take care!









 
Posts: 428
Location: On the plateau in crab orchard, TN
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[quote=Alex Moffitt]Hey,

Many great points and advice previously stated.

My main points are,
try and imagine a clay particle its a like a plate, that's smaller than 0.002mm
These are easily stacked and compressed, in to hard firm well arranged stacks that can make it hard for plants to make roots in.  [/quote]

I found in central TN tried loading up beds with wood chips, This summer I saw multiple fire ants setting up in beds, so started dropping epson salt and sugar combo.  To get rid of fire ants.   Then tried a bokashi pile, and it seems to just sit there doing nothing for over a year.  So my conclusion is use what works in your specific area.

I am researching chicken friendly (growing) lawns too.
 
pioneer
Posts: 425
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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I saw you say that your tiger lilies are edible. Exercise caution. Some are edible, but some varieties are poisonous. Unfortunately, differentiating by sight is very hard. Doing a poison test, however, isn't difficult. Here are the steps:
1) Touch with your hand. Wait at least two days. Observe symptoms.
2) Touch to your lips. Wait at least two days. Observe symptoms.
3) Tiny taste. Take a small bite. Wait at least two days. Observe symptoms.
4) Large taste. Eat a handful. Wait at least two days. Observe symptoms.
5) Eat several handfuls. Wait at least two days. Observe symptoms.
6) All that remains would be to gorge yourself and wait for any ill effects. I like to think this is optional
 
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