i have spent several hours browsing the threads and did not run by this topic. I acquired a ton of horse manure. They use fine sand in the stables. (I do not know why. I've never seen this done, either. The stable breeds thoroughbreds.)
Tomorrow I will be doing a jar test. I believe the make up of this composted manure with sand is a 50:50 ratio. I am in Oklahoma with clay. It is good clay soil, not red but with much more natural organic matter than which is found state-wide. Most is heavy clay, but contains much loamy clay and silt in the top soil from our berating sunshine. I find mulching gives me a very good soil. Adding leaves or leaf compost makes it perfect. That all takes time, of course. I'm just trying to describe my existing soil
SO I DON'T MESS IT UP.
I would really like to use this horse manure but am concerned about the sand. I fear I cannot continue piling it on, but I would like to find a use for it. My cumulative garden surface is about 5,000 sq ft. Plenty of room. (After I plant test this manure) I hope to put this sandy compost in a section to grow onions. I'm certain onions and/or garlic would love it as long as I maintain sufficient organic material? Or am I being risky?
I'm thinking the horse manure will decompose leaving behind a lot of sand in my soil. Am I correct? I have no desire for bricks.
No matter what you have, add leaves, poop and any other unpolluted organic material.
posted 3 years ago
Thanks for the input. i've considered the responses, but I must disagree in part. Not that the simple shouldn't be obvious, but that it is important to consider local environment, macro and micro climates. Natives have suggested sand will work, but only sand of a certain size and emphasize using builder's sand, not fine. Still others suggest that if one is not familiar, adding sand can become problematic. When in drought or under harsh conditions such as our quasi-desert-like summers, the soil bakes and hardens as is.
I think I will toy with it in a section of the garden dedicated to onions and garlic which thrives in sandy soil. Perhaps, because of the environment in central Oklahoma I should be diligent with applications of mulch to protect it from the elements. It might be best to do a controlled study, but I probably won't have funding for adequate soil testing.
There are numerous micro climates in my garden. I think each area would perform differently. Clay is very heavy. I do know that they require manual manipulation to become combined. I've done this. I've added silt/sand from one microclimate into another micro climate's hard clay with excellent results, but it is very laborious to hand rub the existing humus and clay together with the sand. I can claim that when this is done, eventually the tilth of the top soil becomes silty - finer than sand if copious amounts of organic material are not supplied. Then, the area lies dead if not maintained. The climate being as it is, there are opportunities where copious amounts of organic material is not available, even in a natural wild setting.
I wonder. If the soil is left untilled - as I usually do -will the sand settle at the top and the clay at the bottom even more than it does now? The existing silt and sand often work as a mulch. It would not be entirely bad in this respect.
The quickest clay soil amendment is as you suggest - organic material going so far in my area to claim that digging in wet kitchen scraps works very fast - but I find the best way to amend clay soil is by planting deep-rooted plants like okra, sunflower and a plethora of native perennials with deep taproots, like dandelion.
I've never considered adding sand because my soil is great, just heavy. Because this manure has sand, I am forced to consider its application.
Thanks again. I bring this up in case a newbie might be considering using sand. It's important to consider the macro and micro climates.
Bonnie it sounds like you are so closely engaged with your own soils that you have a better idea than anyone else could about the risks and benefits of using this sandy material at your location. Which is admirable and excellent! I don't think I'd be as cautious as you, but as my soil is the classic Oklahoma gravel-clay mix without much organics, the benefit of the manure would vastly outweigh any detriment to the tilth for me, and my tilth can't get much worse anyway. (Of course I'm talking about the native dirt, not the areas I've begun improving, with mixed results.)
Given your plan to test the material in an onion patch, what about trying it on other root vegetables as well? I don't mess much with carrots or turnips because my soils are too heavy for them; if they grow at all they force themselves up out of the ground where bad things happen to the crop before I can harvest it. A sand/manure amendment sounds like just what the doctor ordered to me!
Dan, you're right. I've studied well, but practical application can be totally different. Here, I am parroting what I've read and include a little bit of what I understand. I've only been in permaculture practice for a few years and no gardening before this. I mistakenly planted potatoes in 2014 in an area prone to erosion. I had no idea that potatoes would make it barren in addition to the drought we were experiencing. Then, May 2015 rains happened. It taught me to be cautious. It also taught me I have serious erosion issues. I just put in some small berms and gentle swales in this area to help it come back. Thanks to permaculture!
The soil is rich from the erosion where rains leech everything from the surrounding properties onto mine (slowly running off the bottom end). I am forced to bring in crappy dirt from my other property, nearby, in order to grow herbs like basil or certain beans which don't favor rich soil. All the while, the sun bakes the nitrogen away. You know how it is. Organic material is still needed for tilth. When I found a source of untainted horse manure I was happy. I read that it is not as much of a fertilizer than massive quantities of organics. Worms. It's all about the worms. Then, again, sand might be a very good solution for my herbs and beans.
When i write of rubbing the clay in with the native silt and sand (I think most of it is native sandstone), it was for carrots. A lot of work. I included decades-old leaf litter. It was a beautiful thing. They grew perfectly. I think you're spot on this this idea.
Okay, I'm going to lighten up and just have fun playing with it. The stable hand really wants to get rid of his manure, but I'll wait to see what happens with this first ton.
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