Fertilizing rocky soil where it's half soil half stones (and no dirt)

Page 4 of 9  
Danny D. wrote:

no, vineyards worth their effort get their character from the native soil. you don't really want to change that much, because if you do then it may change the flavor of the wines... that is if you are growing grapes for making wines of any quality.

in primarily mineral soil, yes, but added along with other things (clay and silt and organic matter).

no. not too many stones here at the surface.
songbird
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Danny D. wrote: ...

you have a substrate, for growing veggies you'll need some compost (partially decayed organic materials) and perhaps some clay to hold moisture. if the compost is not very good you may also want to add some chopped and dried alfalfa or other nitrogen rich plant based material. let it sit (water it once in a while to keep it moist) for a few weeks.
for other gardening/soil questions the rec.garden groups still function. i'm very happy to go on at length about such things. ;)
worm composting is a very good way to keep such gardens topped up with nutrients...
songbird
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 09:49:19 -0400, songbird wrote:

You bring up good scientific points in that I doubt there is much humus (organic) material in this particular soil.
Bearing in mind the goal is to teach the kids science in the process, these soils are Franciscan sediments, which are ultra mafic rocks which covered the floor of the Pacific Ocean which were shoved fifty miles under the edge of California about 30 million years ago, and then which popped up when the Farallon Plate was consumed in this area (the Farallon Plate still exists but only north of Mendocino).
Since it's all Franciscan sediments, it's really all the same "clayish" sandstone. There's nothing else in these parts. Just that one clayish sandstone (often termed "chert").
I'm trying to find a chemical composition description of Franciscan chert but I wonder if you look at the soil in my pictures if it looks "decent" to you?
I suspect it has far too little humus to be useful. But I don't know that for a fact.
I just know that back east, the soil is black and filled with roots, whereas out here, it's a uniform brown with almost no root matter and no bugs whatsoever in it.
What is your soil like? Is it similar to mine?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Danny D. wrote: ...

if it is light in color there's not much humus (or any) or carbon in there.
i haven't looked at the pictures yet. was in a bit of a rush this morning...

mostly clay, some sand, compacted, very fertile and good for holding moisture and nutrients but not easy to work once it get dried out or when it is too wet. i much prefer it over overly sandy soil though. we get decent crops from our gardens when others around us with sandier soils have to struggle or give up entirely.

this is an example from a few years ago of what our soil amended with sand looks like (the light soil) and what i use to help the garden fertility along (worms and worm poo/pee - the dark stuff):
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_6775_Wormies.jpg
songbird
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 22:58:14 -0400, songbird wrote:

It's kind of coffee brown, but, remember, it comes from Franciscan sandstone, which is a red chert that came from the bottom of the ocean thirty million years ago when it was mashed against the continent to depths of tens of thousands of feet.
You could dig through this entire mountain, and you'd hit the same stuff throughout.

It's coffee colored. Here is a picture:
http://i.cubeupload.com/KlXcvs.jpg

Lucky you that it's clay, sand, and holds moisture. I'm realizing, slowly, that organics are the elixer of soils, even though they, themselves, don't do anything directly.
The organics seem to have an indirect effect, like toothpaste does.

Wow. I haven't seen that many worms since I lived back east! I saw a worm just a few months ago, but that was the last one in a while.
Your soil seems pretty loose, and grainy, as I can see, in that picture, sand grains. Mine is more uniformly NOT sand. However, I don't see "organics" all that much in either of our soil. Just a stray root here and there, but, I don't see a lot of organics in yours.
But they must be there 'cuz of all the worms.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Danny D. wrote:

...

not entirely true...
they are a long term energy source, also a large surface area, a storage medium for both nutrients and water, a home for fungi and bacteria and many other animals of the soil community.

i raise them to break down food scraps and to be used in the gardens like what you see above.
http://www.anthive.com/worms/100_7187_Small_Scale_Worm_Farm.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/worms/100_7194_Worms.jpg
by the time i take them out to the gardens in the spring there's about 150,000 - 200,000 worms. which i keep 10-20 percent for restarting the cycle.
i need so many buckets because Ma cooks for quite a few people at times and so i need enough capacity to absorb the scraps from making a fruit salad for 50 people or whatever she's up to.
while many worm composters only use the red wriggler composting worms, i use a mix of about six species (i no longer count or sort them out) including earthworms. so if i have a bone or meat scrap i can bury it in the bucket and the worms will break it down eventually. this is not commonly done (because rotting meat in an organic only worm bin will stink - something buried in the dirt will not stink if you put it down several inches deep).
i have all these bins here in my room, they only smell when i'm disturbing them and usually it's not a horrible smell. sometimes a little swampy if i get a bucket too wet (worms don't care how wet as long as it isn't actually swimming in there). since i'm only four months into the cycle there's probably only 100,000 worms here and most are likely to be fairly small, but they keep on going all the time. very good helpers and keeping them indoors during the winter frozen months means they keep on working when everything else outside is fairly quiet.

no, that was pretty plain unamended soil mixed with some extra sand. clay is not loose, when dry it can be as hard as a brick. if i showed you that same garden now it's a few shades darker and is currently covered by squash plants with vines about 30ft long. they're growing in mounds with piles of leaves and other organic matter, ashes and clay layered, plenty of half-decomposed wood chips in there too. i still have about half the area to do the same thing to to raise it up and give it some things for the worms to chew on.

the dark stuff in the trench came out of one of my worm buckets. i put it down in trenches where i'm planting, it's full of nutrients from 12 months of worm activity.
songbird
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 7 Sep 2016 17:48:24 -0400, songbird wrote:

Ah, you mixed in sand. I could see the grains.
My soil seems to be 'dusty'. I noticed the dust, like smoke, when I filled this Costco peaches jar to run the stokes settling experiment.
http://i.cubeupload.com/8jU7HZ.jpg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Danny D. wrote:

i think there's some pea gravel in there too. :)

i'm not familiar with that experiment, but a simple soil analysis whereby you mix a soil sample and some water and then see what settles out quickly(sand and coarser particles) what settles out medium term (silt) and what settles out eventually (clays or finer particles). some organic matter may float and give you an idea of how much of that is in there (trace amounts in most subsoils).
songbird
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 7 Sep 2016 20:35:53 -0400, songbird wrote:

It was suggested by someone else, and easy enough to try. I was kind of surprised how much *smoke* there was, so, that tells me there are some *extremely* fine grains there.
Probably because the dirt is so dry...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/7/2016 6:33 PM, Danny D. wrote:

That's really your soil??
--
Maggie

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 8 Sep 2016 22:01:20 -0500, Muggles wrote:

Um, yeah. Since it's displaced into a bucket, it's actually my dirt.
http://i.cubeupload.com/8jU7HZ.jpg
Here's what it looks like as soil when it's not displaced:
http://i.cubeupload.com/usBxQY.jpg
Here is a zoomed out view showing where I got the topsoil from:
http://i.cubeupload.com/9Ssf42.jpg
It's weathered from Franciscan red chert from the bottom of the ocean which has been shoved against the continent to the tune of tens of thousands of feet, and then exposed by weathering over the past tens of millions of years, such that it's currently "soil".
Why do you ask?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/9/2016 12:45 AM, Danny D. wrote:

I haven't read *every* post in the discussion, but I was wondering if you've decided on how you're actually going to amend the soil to grow a garden?
--
Maggie

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 9 Sep 2016 09:06:01 -0500, Muggles wrote:

Well, I found out that mixing in baking flour might not be the best solution because it has a lot of amylopectin, which, I'm told, will just form a hard "clay" like substance in the soil.
I do plan on mixing in some bottom-of-the-pile wood-chip detritus and maybe even some under-oak leaf rakings, which, I'm told, will contain zillions of fibers from fungi, which help by allowing better water penetration and adsorption (on the fungi fibers) and with good bacterial action (such as nitrogen fixing).
I might even throw in some Guadalupe manure from San Jose residents' poop, but it might be easier to use non-coal wood-original charcoal ground up to add to the existing "dirt" to make my own "terra preta": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta
Apparently charcoal has an immense surface area, acres of surface area, in fact, in a single handful of soil (I'm told), which aids in the adsorption of water and associated dissolved nutrients. http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpindexpage.htm
In addition, I'm told, I can add calcium carbonate, which also helps in the adsorption of moisture in this otherwise dry soil.
Of course, considering what I'm starting with, it won't be easy by any means, but, it should be doable if I think it all the way through.
Here is the "rock" I'm starting with, before it weathers to "stone" and then eventually layers into "soil" before I displaced into my "dirt"...
http://i.cubeupload.com/BLWg5f.jpg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/9/2016 11:45 AM, Danny D. wrote:

Interesting...
Are you going for the "organic gardening" approach?
--
Maggie

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 9 Sep 2016 16:52:46 -0500, Muggles wrote:

I don't believe in "organic". I took plenty of chemistry in my day as I have multiple degrees.
Organic is meaningless (to me). I would pay *less* for organic labeled products, but not more.
I just like experiments. And I like to know exactly what I'm doing.
Details are everything.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/9/2016 7:07 PM, Danny D. wrote:

Really? What are you degrees in?

I like details, too.
This year when it came time to plant in my raised beds, I had to supplement the soil for several reasons. I didn't have enough compost for all of my beds, so I created compost IN each raised bed. Maybe you could do the same thing?
--
Maggie

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/9/2016 8:07 PM, Danny D. wrote:

Yah, organic standards are silly.
Sprinkle some Imazamox or Glyphosate on genetically modified food and you'll have a very healthy dish. And don't worry about soil nutrient depletion, that's just propaganda from the health nuts.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 10 Sep 2016 00:48:25 -0400, Rexor wrote:

An "organic" sticker is nearly meaningless (IMHO).
Just because a chemical has a horrid sounding name doesn't mean that it's bad for you (or good for you either).
The chemical name is meaningless other than what it actually does to either the soil, the food itself, or to the human.
We'd have to take each one on a case-by-case basis - but just putting a label with a pretty green sticker saying "organic" isn't that solution.
It's just not that simple.
I can't market horrid sounding dihydrogen oxide but I can sell crystal clear natural water for twice the price, as long as I put a sticker on it that says "organic".
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Danny D. wrote:

me either, not since the gov't messed up the term. natural methods are good enough.

if you are using less inputs and can still get results eventually it should result in lower cost produce, but the demand is great enough at present that the price/premium is holding.
i don't sell the stuff we grow here, but often give it away. that's as low cost as it gets...

yep, and sustainability over the long-haul. is your topsoil improving each year or at least holding up? or are you farming subsoil?
when i look around here most farmers have taken prime topsoil and over the years turned it back into subsoil. where i grow my veggies now used to be climax forest for our area (150 years ago) and there would have been about a foot of prime topsoil. all gone, farmed away and back to clay. it's fertile if you treat it right. used to be a christmas tree farm here and then farmed again for a while, then fallow for a few years before we bought it.
i've been doing experiments around the place since i've been here (about 10 years of the 20 years total we've owned this plot). i now have a great example of a green manure patch which puts out more nitrogen than the rest of my gardens could ever use. when i started back there the topsoil was gone, the subsoil was compacted and there was no support for much of anything, even weeds struggled back there with all topsoil and organic matter being washed away in any heavy rains.
first thing i did was level it (tilled a few inches and then leveled). there were no worms or night crawlers in there. then i seeded it with a mix of birdsfoot trefoil and alfalfa and kept it weeded so those were the dominant plants. they are nitrogen fixers. after the second season i started chopping them back once or twice a growing season. which increases the rate of nutrient cycling and increases organic matter.
after six years the previously uniform clay subsoil layer has changed into about a foot of noticeably darker soil. the worms and night- crawlers are now all through there and i can still harvest a few hundred lbs of good green manure for use in other gardens if they need a nitrogen boost.
i'm now increasing the complexity in the area by adding other plants (strawberries, turnips, radishes, beets, buckwheat, etc.) and so the space is going to become even more productive now that there is good topsoil. i've already taken several hundred pounds of garlic out of there too. which would take over if i let it. but i'm trying to remove it as getting garlic out of heavy clay in the middle of summer is not very easy... i like eating it as green garlic and the worms love it if i pull it out and let it dry out on the surface.
so, um, yeah, let's keep on growing and learning what we can, but simple biology and knowing about ecology will trump the narrow views of chemistry any time. it's nice to know what is happening with the chemistry of the soils, but as i've found out over the years it's completely not needed if you know how to farm for the diversity of the soil community and soil organic matter drives that.
the simple chemistry approach ignores that. if you go by strictly looking at NPK you're missing 95% of what is important.
having the examples of the surrounding farm fields i don't need to see any more examples of their practices.
songbird
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 9/10/2016 9:47 AM, songbird wrote:

We started off many years ago doing organic gardening, which for us meant putting natural stuff into the soil.
--
Maggie

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.