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

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The Costco at 85 & almaden may be closer for you. They're building a new one at 85 & 101.
The coleman in ssj is completely unrelated to the coleman that runs behind the airport.
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On Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:54:26 GMT, Scott Lurndal wrote:

Yeah, except that I run my own gas station at home. There's no gas at Costco almaden (but man, I *love* the nearby combination of side-by-side Home Depot and Hardware Freight!
So, if I go to Costco Almaden, I go there first, before the Costco opens, and then after Costco, I get my milk and eggs at the next-door Trader Joes, so I have it all worked out.
If I need to fill up on 70 gallons of gasoline, I go to Costco Coleman.
BTW, Costco Coleman is building next year an entire *new* gas station, up the road a bit, in the opposite corner of the parking lot closer to the railroad tracks (my "buddies" always chat with me there since they see me come by once a month for my 70-gallon fill).

Yeah. Same name. Different road. Wait until you drive any road with "Saratoga" in the name out here! :)
And, the one word that means the *opposite* of what it is, is the California word "expressway". Back east, the BQE is an "expressway". Out here, they call some Spanish Saint an expressway but it's nothing of the sort. It's riddled with lights.
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Lawrence was a spanish saint? Actually, a bit of trivia - there was originally a town called Lawrence about where I280 and the Lawrence Expressay meet. Hence the name. (Saw this on a circa 1920 bay area map at the British Museum :-)
(And yes, I realize you're referring to the San Tomas expressway, which out here, must be compared to surface streets, not the BQE).
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On Thu, 08 Sep 2016 12:51:55 GMT, Scott Lurndal wrote:

Well, Quito must have been "something" Spanish! :) (Only you'd get that inference.)
I didn't know about the lost town of Lawrence though; I knew about the lost towns of Alma and Lexington - and how Holy City isn't all that holy ... but, yes, I was referring to San Tomas where that darn thing isn't even close to the BQE.
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On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 3:41:54 AM UTC-6, Danny D. wrote:

Just go buy some potting soil and mix with that crap you call soil or just disregard your "soil" and use the potting soil entirely. Couple of big bags should suffice for what you are going to do. ===
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On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 07:22:36 -0700 (PDT), Roy wrote:

You're the first to explain that the soil I found was 'crap', as that's the main goal, which is to scientifically approach this.
Of course I can do away with the soil on the property, but then the kids wouldn't learn how to analyze what it is that we have, and they wouldn't learn what they need to add to make it work better.
Consider this like the Martian Biome that was in Gravity (or whatever that movie was where Matt Damon had to grow potatoes).
We want to approach this as "our soil" and "our food waste" and "our plants", so, buying potting soil defeats the purpose.
I really just want an analysis of the existing soil, as "you" see it. So far, you're the only one to analyze it from the pictures, and you called it "crap".
I suspect it *is* crap - but how do you know that by looking at it? Was it the percentage of stones? Since I removed the stones, was it something else that triggered that assessment?
Please advise.
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Danny D. wrote: ...

google basic soil analysis. there are many versions of it, but one is simple enough that anyone with a clear jar and some water can manage. it will tell you the mix of various things in terms of composition which is where you want to start an analysis.
once you understand the different steps and elements that make up good soil, then you can look at nutrients and soil organic matter, soil carbon and the active soil community which is the basis of fertility. the substrate of the soil (what it is made of) can be greatly enhanced by adding organic matter to it, but if the soil/substrate is poor and water flows through it too quickly and there is no clay then organic matter and nutrients are easily lost (you will use more than is needed and lose fertility if there are heavy rains).

that movie said very little/next to nothing about fungi and their role along with the various other soil critters.

yes, however, it really is better in terms of labor and time/efforts/water invested to figure out which aspect is lacking and adjust that first before pouring other stuff into it.

it looks mostly mineral, sandy, gritty and not any clay or loam and almost no organic matter at all or other forms of carbon.

color and texture.

add clay, add organic matter, add nitrogen laden chopped up plant stuff, moisten, let sit for a few weeks, plant.
learn how to worm compost food/paper scraps...
i use a method which is simple but also refurbishes garden soil (using earthworms along with the other composting worms)...
have fun, i certainly am! :)
http://www.anthive.com/taters/taters.html
songbird
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On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 23:12:33 -0400, songbird wrote:

yeah. The more I look, the more complex it is, but, it's good to learn this stuff because we only have one soil geology per yard!

I have to agree. Almost no organic matter whatsoever. I might mix in the wood chip residue near the edges of this wood pile to add some "sawdust" so to speak.
http://i.cubeupload.com/8bCVNf.jpg
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On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 5:41:54 AM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:

Forget your own soil. Buy enough of this to fill the planters:
<http://www.miraclegro.com/smg/goprod/miracle-gro-moisture-control-potting-soil/prod70262?locale=en_US Yes, it'll cost you money. But it'll idiot-proof your grandchildren's gardening experience.
If you cheap out and try to add fertilizer to gravel, failure is guaranteed. Organic matter is required for plant growth. There's symbiosis among plants, soil bacteria and other organisms, and dead plant matter in soil.
A user-friendly description of this is available in the novel, "The Martian".
Cindy Hamilton
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On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 09:53:42 -0700 (PDT), Cindy Hamilton wrote:

I was remiss in not mentioning the whole point is to teach the kids. It's best to teach them using their own stuff. That's why we're using "our" soil. And that's why we're using "their food waste".
Sure, we could buy seeds and buy potting soil; but that defeats the scientific purpose.

It's ok if we fail - but it's not OK if we don't understand WHY we failed. We want to understand the soil first - which is my main question.
Then, we want to understand how to improve the soil second. That's my second question.

Ah, this is the second *assessment* of the soil pictures. The first assessment was that it was "crap" and your assessment is that it's "gravel".
I certainly would agree that half of it is "gravel"; but I already sifted out that half, so, now it's all *not gravel*.
Is the not-gravel which is left still *gravel* in your eyes?

This is a key point! I don't *see* any organic matter in this soil. Would I normally be able to *see* organic matter in decent soil?
NOTE: Back east, years ago, I remember the black soil full of bugs and roots; but *this* soil is not that way at all. Very brown. No roots. Dunno if that's a clue (but it probably is).
How do I get *organic* matter into soil? Do they sell organic matter as such?

partially what inspired this experiment.
We want the kids to understand their own soil, their own food waste, and to understand how to improve their own soil to grow their own food.
It's a learning experiment. Failure is an option, but not learning is not an option.
So, that's why I asked for an *assessment* of the soil that I pictured.
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On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 1:56:31 PM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:

Well, it's not what I would call a prime growing medium for plants.

It definitely is.

I just googled "compost near me" and got some reasonable hits. I live in the lush environs of southeast Michigan. Our municipalities collect yard waste (which is illegal to dump in landfills here), compost it, and sell it back at a reasonable price.

It's hard to tell from a picture. I'd definitely try the county extension service.
You certainly should be able to see stuff that clearly used to be plant matter: leaves, twigs, and random partially rotted dross. Evidence of insects is also good. If worms don't find it congenial, then plants won't, either.
Amending soil with organic matter involves rounding up a bunch of composted plant parts and mixing it in. Gardening in containers is tough (harder than Mark Watney made it sound), which is why I suggested buying potting mix. Too much water, and plants die. Too little water, and plants die. The organic matter acts like a big sponge, and is loaded with soil bacteria.
I've got pretty poor soil; a couple of inches of topsoil over 12 feet of clay (not the caliche of the Southwest, but still pretty heavy). Every year I plant a few dozen heads of garlic. I've got two frames that I made from untreated cedar fence pickets, so they're about 3 ft by 6 ft by 6 inches. I plop them down in the garden, fill them with topsoil and compost that I bought in big bags from Home Despot, use a garden fork to mix it with what was left from last year, and poke in the cloves of garlic.
Sorry, I'm getting a little "stream of consciousness" on you. It just occurred to me that if there wasn't already anything growing in your soil, it's very unsuited to your purpose. It'll take a whale of a lot of amendment to get it to grow heavy feeders like vegetables.
Best of luck.
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On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 12:22:37 -0700 (PDT), Cindy Hamilton wrote:

Did you see my lawn in the background? I would tend to agree with you! :)

You guys probably get rain, right? We don't get rain. Not a drop. At least from about the end of April to the middle of November. Not a single drop.

I'll try but I'm in a county that doesn't have farms all that much. At least I've never seen a farm. Some leftover orchards though. And lots of vinyards.

No bugs whatsoever. Not a single worm in four buckets of raw soil. No plants either. A few scattered roots though.

I looked up what plants need. They need a complex mix of stuff, only some of which is NPK. Sigh. It's not so easy. Maybe I'll just grind up some leftover food in a blender and mix *that* into the two 5-gallon buckets.

Hey, Can the kids plant these?
http://i.cubeupload.com/bzuWn5.jpg
Will that old garlic grow?
I buy the big bag from Costco - and always have this much wasted.
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On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 4:19:42 PM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:

Year round. 32 inches per year, almost evenly distributed at 3 inches per month (a little less in January and February, since cold air doesn't hold as much moisture).

Not really a good place for gardening, then. Even I have to water; stuff in planters with that moisture control potting mix gets watered every other day.

It needs to be "former plant material". If you put in uncomposted kitchen waste, it could well result in anaerobic digestion, producing methane, hydrogen sulfide, and similar unappealing odors. Probably not what your grands want in a gardening experience.

If it starts to sprout in your kitchen--or wherever you store it-- (a green shoot in the middle of the clove) then it's viable. Garlic grows underground, and it likes fluffy soil, which is not what you've got.
I don't know squat about growing garlic in places where it doesn't get cold in the winter. I plant mine in September or October, mulch it with leaves or grass clippings (so it doesn't heave out of the ground when it freezes solid), and next spring it pokes up through the ground. By June or July it has formed heads and is ready to harvest.
Frankly, your conditions are suited to weedy plants like oregano, rosemary, thyme. Lettuce might work, although it doesn't like the heat. It gets hot, and the plants go to seed, which makes the leaves bitter. There's something called amaranth that's supposed to be better in the heat.
Cindy Hamilton
Tomatoes are prima donnas; practically any little thing will either kill the plant outright or make the fruit rot on the vine. I've tried it growing them in pots and I've given up on it.
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On Wed, 7 Sep 2016 10:10:52 -0700 (PDT), Cindy Hamilton wrote:

Interesting. I *did* mix in the meats but maybe I should have kept the veggies separate.
The wife says my compost sucks (only she says it in a much sweeter way than that). She won't use it anymore. She says even weeds won't grow in it.
Maybe it's because I mixed in *everything*?
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On Wed, 7 Sep 2016 10:10:52 -0700 (PDT), Cindy Hamilton wrote:

The Costco garlic just turns brown. I don't think the hairy bottoms ever get green sprouts on them.
Rosemary you are correct on! You just can't kill that stuff out here.
We never water it but it grows (and grows, and grows, and grows).
We've got more rosemary than we know what to do with, probably, easily, a hundred yards of rosemary scattered about in wide swaths all over the place!
http://i.cubeupload.com/0nZYLO.jpg
The wife makes (what I call) rosemary pizza with it though ...
http://i.cubeupload.com/cbINSX.jpg
Very fragrant!
PS: Those are bay leaves in the background, soaking in water, for our bay-leaf tea! You can't kill a bay tree either. Just not possible.
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On Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 7:21:03 PM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:

It might be irradiated to prevent sprouting.

The hairy bottoms are where the roots grow. The green sprouts come from the middle of each clove.
Cindy Hamilton
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On Thu, 08 Sep 2016 11:06:41 -0700, Oren wrote:

Wild garlic sounds good. I used to pluck wild onions back east. Here the mustard grows wild ...
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Danny D. wrote: ...

plant garlic in the fall before your rainy season starts. down a few inches.
edible as green garlic too after it starts growing again (bury it even deeper if you plan on harvesting it early as that means the blanched part of the shoot is longer :) ).
songbird
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On 09/09/2016 06:21 AM, songbird wrote:

That might work if he's in NoCal. After all, Gilroy is the garlic capital of the world. There aren't many towns where you can drive through and guess their principal cash crop with your eyes closed.
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and when the wind is right (up the salinas valley into the coyote valley), you can smell Gilroy Foods in south san jose, 25 miles away.
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