Soil amendments Seems more like an Art

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/Pubs/Garden/07235.html
Wood ash, an organic amendment, is high in both pH and salt. It can magnify common Colorado soil problems and should not be used as a soil amendment. Don't add sand to clay soil -- this creates a soil structure similar to concrete.
Wood Products Wood products can tie up nitrogen in the soil and cause nitrogen deficiency in plants. Microorganisms in the soil use nitrogen to break down the wood. Within a few months, the nitrogen is released and again becomes available to plants. This hazard is greatest with sawdust, because it has a greater surface area than wood chips. If you plan to apply wood chips or sawdust, you may need to apply nitrogen fe If you plan to apply wood chips or sawdust, you may need to apply nitrogen fertilizer at the same time to avoid nitrogen deficiency.
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http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/html/grow/grow/soil.html
Types of amendments Good organic amendments (additions) for garden soils include wood by-products such as sawdust and bark mulch, peat moss, rotted manure, grass or wheat straw, and compost. Inorganic amendments include pumice, perlite, vermiculite, and sand.
............................. I use wood chips that are about 5 years old that I walk on to break down. My garden paths are wood chip paths. Mixed with bird feeder refuse and it is black and fluffy and smells alive. Manured the place many times 30 years ago and the earth worms are rampant. BUT the moles/voles/field mice are too. Just got a volunteer mouser that looks like our deceased midnight but he is afraid of us. I don't blame it in away as I'd have it fixed in a year.
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Bill Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA
<http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending
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My experience is that you shouldn't add sand to clay, without also adding 10%-15% organic material (since you're there you may as well throw in some rock phosphate, as well). As a final touch, grow some green mulch the has either rye or buckwheat in it, or add some, and a nitrogen fixer, like beans, peas, or clover. Then cover it all over with newspaper. Cover the paper with alfalfa (lucern to some). Hose down the alfalfa. Wait 2 weeks and plant. Bi-monthly feeding with an organic fish emulsion and maintaining the mulch to a depth of at least 2", and you're in business.

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I'm not in Colorado and didn't take on board that advice. I'm glad I didn't. I've used both and had no problems.
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Wood ash was a given for our sweet potatoes and other root crops. Seems what we have or think we have needs some observation to our local. . Hence the idea as gardening as an art is much like medicine. Just came in from moving leaves about and looking for signs of mint. The rosemary protected made it :)))))) I like rosemary potato (new) with olive oil that I purchase. No olives in S Jersey just a lot of wineries springing up. No local vinegar that I know of yet.
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Bill Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA
<http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending
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Same here (UK).
Janet
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