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Soil fertility in excavated wofati / earth berm greenhouse

 
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Location: Denver, CO
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Hi,

I'm not sure if this is the correct place for this question since it pertains to soil fertility, so please let me know if I should move it.  

I may have an opportunity to construct an earth sheltered greenhouse on south facing sloped land (about 20-30 degrees) in the front range in Colorado at around 6000 ft elevation.  I'm curious how well vegetables will grow in soil that has been excavated down 4 or 5 feet.  I'm curious if anyone has experience growing in this condition.  Is it mostly/completely dependent on the soil composition and environment?  This is a new concept for me so I'm not even sure I know what questions to ask.

Thanks
 
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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As a general rule, I would just add
1) water management (water bucket/irrigation pipe/sump pump)
2) soil life (compost/worm tea/mushroom slurries)
3) carbon (compost/woodchip/straw)
4) mineral (rock dust/azomite/compost/etc)

But even if you didn't do any of those things your plants will still survive, but why just survive when you can thrive, you already did so much work already just complete the process.
 
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Hey Dan! I think you picked a great forum. I also added it to the soil forum as that seems relevant too, I hope that helps.

As per your question, what you're dealing with sounds very similar to most suburban plots: growing on fill dirt. I've seen no end of successes in this context, so with enough effort and time I'm sure you can grow plenty of vegetables. If possible, I would suggest trying to save the topsoil from excavation and replacing the top layer with that topsoil. That would be the best of circumstances, but even if you can't there are many options. My personal suggestion would be to look into importing compost and mixing it into the top layer of the woofati (or just layering the compost on top too). Otherwise you can chase slower paths: growing cover crops, holding animals, compost/mushroom teas, etc. The goal will be to increase the organic matter and soil life in the bermed soil.
 
Dan Miano
Posts: 53
Location: Denver, CO
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S Bengi wrote:As a general rule, I would just add
1) water management (water bucket/irrigation pipe/sump pump)
2) soil life (compost/worm tea/mushroom slurries)
3) carbon (compost/woodchip/straw)
4) mineral (rock dust/azomite/compost/etc)

But even if you didn't do any of those things your plants will still survive, but why just survive when you can thrive, you already did so much work already just complete the process.



Thanks for the advice.  I definitely want them to thrive so it sounds like I'll be breeding life into the Wofati ground soil!  I've been getting some experience making various compost teas and making soil mixes.  
 
Dan Miano
Posts: 53
Location: Denver, CO
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Kyle Neath wrote:Hey Dan! I think you picked a great forum. I also added it to the soil forum as that seems relevant too, I hope that helps.

As per your question, what you're dealing with sounds very similar to most suburban plots: growing on fill dirt. I've seen no end of successes in this context, so with enough effort and time I'm sure you can grow plenty of vegetables. If possible, I would suggest trying to save the topsoil from excavation and replacing the top layer with that topsoil. That would be the best of circumstances, but even if you can't there are many options. My personal suggestion would be to look into importing compost and mixing it into the top layer of the woofati (or just layering the compost on top too). Otherwise you can chase slower paths: growing cover crops, holding animals, compost/mushroom teas, etc. The goal will be to increase the organic matter and soil life in the bermed soil.



Thanks Kyle,

That’s very reassuring to hear others have had lots of success with this.  I read that roots typically don’t go deeper than 2 or 3 feet down so I was concerned how plants grow deeper. It sounds loke if I bring life and organic matter to the soil I should have success.
 
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