had poor garden

I had a bad garden my first year this year.I think my land has to much clay and rock.So i tilled it up yesterday for next year and i want to dump on a load of top soil on it this sat. for next year.I heard alot of different ways to make it better next year.One told me to put leafs down before i put the top soil on.I'd like more advice if someone could help me. Most things i read say i need nitrogen,phosphorus, and potassium, So how can i get all of these three to put on my garden for next year.By the way i'm in wisconsin. Cold weather is on the way and another month it will be freezing. So please someone help me out.
thank you
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wrote:

You don't need expensive chemicals. Most of the phosphorous people pay big $ for and dump on their lawns just runs off in the rain and goes in the nearest body of water. Here in NJ Lake Hopatcong (NJ's largest lake) has to pay big tax $$$ and buy special "de-weeding boats" because 1 pound of phosphorous runoff from well-manicured lawns makes something like 10,000 lbs of weeds. At that rate the lake would become a meadow within about 1-2 decades. And a couple weeks ago a big smelly blob in Egg Harbor township waters in the southern part of the state turned out to be caused by runoff from people's lawn fertilizers.
Anyhow, I have the same type of soil...granite and clay. Luckily the rocks aren't mammoth size so I dig em up and they make good walls or even solid raised bed borders. Im able to get about 12-16 inches down before rock removal (and thick orange clay) becomes too daunting. I also mix in compost from my kitchen (vegetable+fruit scraps, coffee grinds, used tea bags & brown paper). Old sunflower stalks and scraps from the previous season are also dug under. In autumn I shred & bag the leaves with the lawn mower and dump 6-12 inches of shredded leaf & grass compost on top of the garden. Wood ashes from the fireplace are put over the garden in winter, so the snow is darker and absorbs more heat. I also have very acidic trees around the area, so the ashes and shredded leaves slightly cancel each other out.
It will take one or two more years but your garden will be an extremely good one, with all the required nutrients.
Dan nw NJ
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wrote:

The "putting leafs down first" under the load of topsoil could do a lot. What would've been better, during the tilling phase, would've been to have worked quality compost, or cheap woodshavings or peat or leaves or other organic matter, deep into the soil. If the topsoil you add does not have much organic matter in it (& all too often what gets delivered as "topsoil" is only sterile fill-dirt lacking in organic matter) you may still have mediocre soil when all is said & done. So if the topsoil is low in organic matter, mix it liberally with peat, compost, leaves, or a fine grade of woodshavings, or all of the above -- if you're near the woods, go get bags & bags of fallen leaves & mix those in. If you can get to a rabbit or llama farm, their poo is not too nasty & can be added to the soil to compost in situ, especially if you won't be planting in it much until spring.
When the topsoil (mixed with organic material) is spread out, you should lastly thinly topcoat with steer manure (composted) -- I stay steer manure only because it which is the cheapest commercial compost, it could be any compost. Then when you're planting stuff, every hole you dig for every plant should have a lion's portion of a quality compost mixed in, &amp be sure to make every hole larger than necessary so you can really get the organic content mixed around each spot very well. Chances are this will be so successful for future plantings you won't need artificial fertilizers at all. Using all those chemicals won't be nearly as good as enriching the organic content of the soil, as soil "manufacturers" its own nitrogens from organic content thanks to the actions of microorganisms that live most numerously in loamy moist soils. So a soil with good organic mix in it rarely needs nitrogen fertilizer, & I tend to use (if any fertilizers at all) the low-nitrogen types for woody shrubs & evergreens.
A lot of commercial gardening advice is to add all those chemicals because commercial advice is oriented toward encouraging dollars to be spent on products. In reality, it's bags of chemicals are not the best way to restore or maintain soils. Use a mulch mower to not be carting away nutrients in grass clippings, let autumn leaves turn to leaf mold in the gardens, do an annual thin topcoating of composted manure or whatever you've composted yourself from garden rubble, & you'll be shocked how little fertilizer is ever called for. If you harvest fruit or veggies & toss clippings, more fertilizer will be needed than if everything is recycled back into the gardens.
There are by the way many sorts of plants such as cotoneasters & manzanitas that do surprisingly well in poor soils & even help bond nitrogen to the soil improving it by their presence. If there are some areas you didn't get round to plowing & enriching, working with plants suited ot harsh soils can also have a good outcome in those locations.
-paghat the ratgirl
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compost compost compost :)
you could try course vermiculate and/or some peat moss....not sure of the size...but you are best off staying in the organic world....it doesn't yeild the big hug crops first thing (like chemicals will) but time pays off and you can have an absolutley GORGEOUS garden in a few years that is WAY more healthy....next its time for heirlooms :)

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