water repellant spoil

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On 15/01/2014 10:06 AM, songbird wrote:

Now that sounds interesting. I'm wondering if they suggested molasses because it would help with keeping/fostering biota?????
I have a massive drum of molasses in the shearing shed which is a left over from when there were horses here. I'll hunt it out and give it a try.

Both of those make good sense, The latter suggestion is similar to my 'mud pie' making tactics so I know that will work.

That suggestion is interesting too but all I know about Bentonite is that it is traditionally used to stop leaks in dams ('ponds' in USian??) if a farm has a leaking dam, bags of bentonite are poured in to stop the leak.

I'd say a tentative 'yes'. I've been gradually going round and paying close attention to spots within areas where he just applies a blanket watering. Working as a team seems to be a bit more effective in getting water to the really precious things but it's still just about survival and I'm not expecting things to do any thriving - that would be a bridge too far.
We got a bit of rain yesterday (Hallellula!) and so that will help. Nothing, but nothing can ever replace the effectiveness of rain. I suspect the only thing to do from now on is to completely cover the more sensitive growing area (veg) with shade cloth in high summer and either never go away for more than a few days, or just admit that it's time to move to the burbs or bring in a bulldozer and get rid of the lot and then lay down pebbles.
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Fran Farmer wrote:

let us know if it does seem to make any difference.
i'm not sure what their reasoning was other than perhaps it would help as a wetting and clumping agent. encouraging biota would be the great side benefit. that you have it on hand is great. i'll be listening... :) :)
this morning i was feeding the worm bins (nos 5 through 15) to get them ramped up for spring. i had stuff from garlic, and a whole bucket of chopped dried alfalfa and trefoil, along with the usual veggie scraps. after a bit i decided to take a few cups of the worm castings and put them on top of the potted plants i'd recently repotted, to give the potting soil a boost of bacteria, fungi and perhaps a few very tiny worms. after doing that and watering them well i was rinsing out the small container i used and was thinking of you down there trying to get very fine soil to wet and how nice those little worm castings were staying together even though they were soaking in water. so for the longer term, encourage worms however you can. they'll clump some of that dusty soil together.
i also had someone post a short article about how some of what happen with superdry dusty soil is that the plant waxes coat the soil particles making it so tough to get wet and hold moisture again. another good reason to have worms as the passing of dirt through the gut of a worm will grind all those pieces together making it much easier to wet again. not counting all the other benefits.

and when it rains, run out and pull some of the mulch back from your favorite plants or those in the most risk as then the water can reach the soil easier. then when it stops raining put the mulch back over. leave some mulch in the rain, of course, to protect the soil, but if you have a really deep layer it sure doesn't hurt to peel some of it back until you know you are getting plenty of rains again.

yes, we tend to call them ponds here, i think most people think of things like Hoover Dam when they hear the word dam being used. around here it is so flat that ponds are not in danger of leaking, they are just deepened spots in the property where it suits. this whole area used to be pretty much nothing but wooded swamps, and of course, ages ago an inland sea, glaciers, etc.

oh, that's great! yes, i know how that feels when it is so hot and dry and all you are hoping for is a decent long spell of nice gentle rains to soak everything down. i hope the weather continues to favor you there.

yeah, things grow ok here with our well water, but they do much better with rain. trace nutrients and a bit of nitrogen come along with rains in our area.

i'm not sure what you already have in place, but things like shelter belts, and wind breaks can also help a lot. and interplanting with deep rooted perennials (chop some back every once in a while), they'll help keep things cooler, protect the soil from evaporation losses and bring up both moisture and nutrients from further down than most garden veggies will go.
songbird
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