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Crusty soil

 
Jon Ladd
Posts: 1
Location: Milwaukee, WI
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Hello,

First post here. My wife and I are starting a small urban farm/garden on a community plot in Milwaukee, WI. here is a link to a post from my wife about it to give some background info. New micro-farm plot We recently planted seeds, and after a few good days of rain, followed by a couple very sunny & windy days, the soil is has a very hard crusty surface. Upon breaking through the crust, the soil is moist, but we are worried that the seedlings will not be able to break through. We have planted green beans, chard, basil, carrots, and pinto beans.
Any advice on what we could do to help ensure our seedlings will emerge? We are considering using a layer of straw mulch to help hold moisture in, or slightly breaking up the surface with a cultivator of some sort. Any input would be very appreciated. Thanks!

Jon
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Posts: 1998
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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The beans will break through the crust, so no worries there.

The chard might make it through.

About the only way that I can germinate carrots or basil this time of year is to spray the row once or twice a day to keep the soil moist. Basil could be sown in pots and transplanted to get around the need to keep the top layer moist. Carrots can't be transplanted with much hope of success because they are a root crop.

 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Stephanie Ladd
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Location: Southeast Wisconsin, urban
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Well you are right about the beans. They are up and doing well. The pintos are up and the green beans are just starting to come up.

We've been keeping everything watered so I'm hoping that will be enough.

I like the coffee grounds idea. I'll try it. I'm also thinking of going to our city service lot and getting some leaf mulch and compost.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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the mulch and compost will do wonders for crusty soils. The crust is formed by clays usually and the more you do to give those clay particles things to cling to, the more they separate and the less crustiness you will find.
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