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recommendations to amend soil for earthbag wall

 
pollinator
Posts: 651
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
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I want to build a 2 foot tall earth bag wall around my blueberry containers to protect the containers from sun and extreme cold.
My soil test after 24 hours looks like the soil I bought has 60% sand and 40% clay (Red Alabama Clay).  
what is needed to make this a once and done job?  Can I add pea gravel or should I stick with adding sand (15% to 20%)?
20200421_083907.jpg
test results after 20 hours - no silt
test results after 20 hours - no silt
 
gardener
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Location: Westbridge, BC, Canada
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Hi Dennis,    Since your wall is going to be used for such a simple task, I would think that it would be pretty hard to screw up your proportions. I've always seen 10-30% as being a good clay content to have so I would say you could extend your purchased soil with whatever you have. The pea gravel may add a bit more thermal mass though which would be good for your application.  
What type of render are you going to cover the bags with to protect them from the elements? A little roof as well?  Curious.
 
pollinator
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40/60 isn't so bad, 30/70 is the preferred ratio so you could add a little sand if you felt like it. My advice is just make a couple of test bags, let them dry and make sure they feel strong. It creates a whole lot more work to mix in sand so if it is possible to use your soil, just do it.
 
Dennis Bangham
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Gerry Parent wrote:What type of render are you going to cover the bags with to protect them from the elements? A little roof as well?  Curious.


I am thinking about a cement, gunite or stucco.  
I do like to make a hypertufa if that can be made strong enough. Use some poultry fencing to hold it up against the bags.
These all seem to be a lot of effort with out the right equipment.  
What would be the best idea?
 
Gerry Parent
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There is a FAQ on Eathbagbuilding.com that coverss plastering the bags with various renders.

Another option if your not attached to using earth bags could be rock. Large bounders can be stacked quite nicely and are already finished! They can help hold the suns heat maybe even better than the earthbags could.
 
Gerry Parent
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These links were given in today's Dailyish email that I thought might apply to your situation.

Piles-rocks-growing-plants

Permaculture rocks - no, I mean actual rocks
 
Dennis Bangham
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Gerry, I want to prevent the blueberry roots from freezing so I need to fill the inside walls with dirt. For the rock piles I am looking at bringing in beneficial insects and lizards/snakes. I may use piled up rocks and broken bricks etc for this.  So lizards have a cool place to stay.  I doubt snakes would come because the rocks are small.
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