Ecological impact of soil amendments

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Cool, I buy about four hundred pounds of sand for weight for my two wheel pickup truck for winter driving. I use to put the sand down the cracks in the clay soil just to get rid of it in the spring. So I though I was just getting rid of it and now I was probably helping the soil. I will now mix the sand with my compost before I put it down in the spring.
In the past I always thought it was bad to add sand to clay. But now if I add compost with it, it will even better. Cool.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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Cool, I buy about four hundred pounds of sand for weight for my two wheel pickup truck for winter driving. I use to put the sand down the cracks in the clay soil just to get rid of it in the spring. So I though I was just getting rid of it and now I was probably helping the soil. I will now mix the sand with my compost before I put it down in the spring.
In the past I always thought it was bad to add sand to clay. But now if I add compost with it, it will even better. Cool.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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Depends on the makeup of the soil already there.
My soil is mostly sand, some silt, negligible clay, and zero organic matter. I don't need to add any more sand. I do need organic matter by the truckload.
    Una
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Some peoples waste is another' s gold. I had to travel for wood chips 40 years ago. Today KC tree service delivers wish I could say the same for manures. I no longer have access to a pickup truck. But with three plies two cold and one hot our soil loaded with earth worms is pretty good. I'd guess the rock amendments for 1965 are still breaking down.
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Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden



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Una wrote:

i always offer to trade people who have too much sand for clay, but so far nobody has taken up the offer. :) bring buckets... adding organic matter does help, but i'd add some clay too because it helps the worms (night crawlers like it for their burrows) and holds nutrients and moisture.
songbird
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On my clay soil, i tend just put grass seed on it. Then I go with raised beds. However, I am always experimenting, I will try clay and sand with compost and see how things work out. I am forever line trimming.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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wrote:

Both clay and sand need organic matter, but sand needs far more organic matter than clay because it naturally has less nutrients.

I'd say that and for the following reason: Clay soil is made of extremely fine particles and it is the lack of big particles that makes clay so hard to work but those fine particles hold nutrients well. Sand is made of big particles and it is the lack of fine particles that makes sand so freedraining and so nutrient free.
The opposite of clay soil is sand. Add sand to clay and you improve the clay, add clay to sand and you improve the clay.

Yes. Try it. A friend and I both fell on this idea when my friend was at the local rural/landscaping supplier and bemoaning the fact that her soil was so clayey. On and on she moaned and our extremely laconic business owner just finally drawled 'have you ever thought of adding sand' and walked off. It makes sense if you think about it for a second.
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sand.
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- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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be given> wrote:

Our tractor doesn't have a front end loader - it has pallet prongs. And I'm too old and feeble to turn it by hand. I've decided not to sweat the small stuff. My piles eventutally rot and forms a decent looking humus so I use what i do get.
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Dan L wrote: ...

when it dries too much yea, that's about what happens if there is no organic matter to keep it lightened up or if it is left bare between crops. it's does a number on the hands trying to weed or plant.

the reconditioned area i did this past summer had nothing added to the clay besides it being killed off (to get rid of the sow thistle that was taking over). then i tilled it a few inches deep to give seedlings a chance to get roots down in and to soak up the rain (instead of it running off the compacted soil). oh and i took the advantage of it being all dug up and leveled it more to keep the water from running off too quickly into the east ditch.
i seeded it with two legumes, alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil (in a spiral pattern). it took a while to get going, the alfalfa has very deep roots after several years and will help break through that clay hardpan layer that often develops. both were chosen for color, and because they fix nitrogen. if they are mowed they both come back low growing and with some color, but so far we haven't had to mow there.
this was left to grow (i only walked on a certain pathway to avoid compacting the soil again). this fall i had to move a rhubarb plant and there was a spot along the edge of this whole patch where i wanted to put the rhubarb... that gave me a chance to check out the depth of the roots from the alfalfa and trefoil and to see how the soil was doing. we hadn't had much rain late in the summer, but this fall the rains have been enough to keep it moist and the worms have been going nuts as compared to how it used to look. there were not very many worm signs before. when i was digging there were plenty of worms so i'm taking that as a good sign. and the times when i've walked across it it has been soft and squishy instead of like walking on pavement. so from that i'd say that tilling and staying off it while replanting can be a good approach as long as you don't need to run a mower over it or walk on it when the seedlings are starting.
the alfalfa will take several years to get the deep roots established. we'd tried an alfalfa patch before for the purple flowers but it was not left long enough to get established before it was changed to another garden. so this time we'll leave it for a longer time period and see how this all works out.
i may intercrop it next year with beans to take advantage of the space and get some return on the weeding.
i'm hoping this winter the deer will bed down back there and eat that area up instead of messing around in the other garden they've been using that is much closer to the house (about 20ft from where i'm typing this from -- i'd like to sleep instead of hearing them clomping around at 4am).
songbird
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Better IMHO is mulching instead of tilling. Mulching reduces run-off, and a mulch like alfalfa (lucern) will feed the soil with both "C" and "N", and no tilling will preserve the earthworms habitate (as opposed to rototilling which turns them in to worm emulsion).

Venison would be healthier than most of what you can buy in a store.

Talking about garden problems and approaches to fixing them are good for the newsgroup, thanks.
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- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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Billy wrote:

we don't have the many cubic yards of mulch it would have taken to recondition that entire area. instead i took the approach i did because there weren't that many worms to begin with in that part of the soil (the top few inches of dry hard-pan clay) and it really needed to be softened up so that seedling roots could get established (before the frosts came). for smaller areas mulching is much easier i would agree. oh, and i did need to level it, tilling helped move a few cubic yards eastwards.

the hunters have been booming all around us, but we still see many running during the day now (groups of six or more).

:)
songbird
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I am slowly restoring the badly damaged soil on two small parcels of land. Both are on slopes and I am also gradually terracing them. Terracing is not a natural condition, but most people would consider it an improvement on the original.
Couple of things I've observed. Purslane loves nitrogen and sucks ths soil dry. Cheatgrasses do not like too much nitrogen. Some of the major weeds of disturbed soils do the soil rather a lot of good. Two examples are Kochia and redroot pigweed. Both are annuals that grow deep taproots.
Starting out, there was zero organic matter hence absolutely no worms. Compaction was significant, and rain water mostly ran off. The soil is still far from heathy but the patches where I began are far better now. They grow grass, all kinds of grass. I pull up clumps of grass and transplant the clumps into other spots where I have previously mulched heavily with horse manure. A few years ago I started pulling all mustard weeds, just so that none managed to set seed. Then there were no mustards so I started pulling pigweed ditto. This year there was nearly no pigweed so I started pulling kochia. What is left? An increasingly varied abundance of native perennial wildflowers (mallows and asters, mostly) and grasses. I have started digging wildflowers and distributing them to gardening friends, leaving the grasses to fill in the holes. Next summer I expect I will be pulling kochia again, and purslane, and then I'll be done with weeding that parcel! I won't worry about the cheatgrasses; they won't be able to compete with the perennial grasses that are coming in now.
    Una
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"Google" a photo to be sure, but around here red root pigweed is wild amaranth. The leaves are edible like spinach and in the fall the grain is very healthy. I always leave one or two in the garden. Steve

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Yes, it is edible, even fairly tasty when young and tender. However, like rhubarb leaves pigweed has oxalate crystals and I don't want much oxalate in my diet. Also, this pigweed accumulates nitrates, which I also don't want to eat much of, and in light of the fact I am adding so much manure to the soil the available nitrates are likely to be high.
Purslane is edible too, and tastier than pigweed. So are the mustards.
    Una
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Purslane is the plant with highest omega 3 I believe.
--
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden

Daniel Moynihan and Dennis Kucinich in 2012 !
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wrote:

In other words, as they say in the real estate business, it all boils down to location, location, location. Here in my location, Southern Ontario, Canada, in spring, every garden center, hardware store, big box store or roadside stand has bales of sphagnum peat moss for sale. Usual size is 3.8 cu. ft. and the bales are compacted making them relatively heavy and hard as a brick. Price averages CND$8.00/bale. End of season on sale prices can be as much as 50% off. According to the International Peat Conference, Canada has an estimated 272 million acres of peatland, second only to the former USSR (371 million acres). Australia & Oceania combined have less than 2.5 million acres.
Therefore, in reply to your post where you stated:
<Quote> I'm stunned that any gardener these days would recommend, approve or in any way encourage the use of either spagnum or peat. The use of these in any garden where the gardener has even any mild concern for the environment is a total no-no. Coconut fibre is OK and is a very good replacement. <End Quote>
I, and many of my fellow gardeners have very much more than a mild concern for the environment and, if we lived in Oz, where sphagnum peat moss is basically an "endangered species", we would probably agree with you. However, it is unfair to belittle gardeners in another area where it is a renewable, economical, readily available and excellent soil amendment. Without the slightest twinge of conscience, I will eschew coconut fibre and continue to use sphagnum peat moss, along with material from our own compost pile(s) on the gardens.
Ross. Southern Ontario, Canada. AgCanada Zone 5b 43 17' 26.75" North 80 13' 29.46" West
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wrote:

If you look at the first citation that FarmI gave <http://www.imcg.net/docum/brisbane.htm you'll see that it was sponsored in part by: Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, and North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada), 2 groups which must be familiar with Canadian resources, yet still call for conservation.
So if peat is plentiful, and renewable, why not use it? You will have noticed that peat bogs are wetlands, and I think that it is in the functioning of wetlands that you will find your answer.
Wetlands: 1) purify water,
2) offer habitat to support biodiversity,
3) in relation to the above, provide sustainable food to local communities,
4) function as a carbon sink by sequestering atmospheric CO2. The carbon stored in peat represents one quarter of the World's soil carbon pool
The fact that peat deposits are large and renewable doesn't alter that their diminution adversely affects the above 4 points.
--
- Billy
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:-))) Indeed. At least someone bothered to read my cites.

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Well of course it's there and for sale and even goes on special! There's bucks to be made and people who'll buy.

You didn't read the cites did you?

You will of course do as you choose, but horses and water come to mind.
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