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cursed soil?

 
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So I did all the things, 6 inches of compost and about the same of wood chips lightly dug in and left for a year.  Dug into it to plant and it was like some sort of horror show still.  The clay was perhaps a little darker but still either dry dust or solid concrete like chunks.  The wood chips looked more mummified than starting to decompose.  So what should I do next?  Compost tea?  Worms? keep on with the compost and wood chips and hope fo a miracle?  Could it be that the previous owners did too much weed killer?  Any help would be appreciated
 
Posts: 540
Location: Abkhazia · Cfa (humid subtropical) - temperate · clay soil
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Are there any weeds growing? Those could indicate what would grow when planted.
Apart from that, pumpkins would probably love it.
Buy your favorite pumkin in the store, eat it and throw the seeds in the decomposing mix (or better dig them in a bit).

There are definitely more plants that will love this…
 
Caren Pilz
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a few brave bind weeds and thistles, so that is something.  I just cave the dark crumbly soil teeming with life.  so pumpkins it is then, i will give that a try
 
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I have been turning my caliche dirt into soil using coffee ground.  I have a 3 gallon bucket under the sink that I add the ground to when we make coffee.

When the bucket is full I carry it out to the garden, dig a 3 gallon size hole.  Then I dump the bucket and cover the grounds with dirt.

Another thing that we do is collect leaf mold for the garden.

If you have trees where grass will not grow, you can rake the leaves back and collect the dirt under the leaves.  It is beautiful soil!

Maybe your soil did not get enough water so that might be why it didn't decompose the way it normally would.
 
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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What's your ecosystem Caren? Here I would hammer in a stake for pole beans to go with the squash, and around the edge plant daikon radish - the long type that put down a long root. If the soil is compacted clay and mineral soil, it takes a long time to get enough roots in there helping you break it up. I've been letting Burdock help me with that in an area that a former owner put fill on and compacted with machinery and after 5 years only the areas I've really worked on are self-supporting and I've done a lot of horse-poop, duck-poop inoculated wood chips, dead animal, and veggie scrap compost windrows and I'm getting great soil out of the compost, but underneath is still pretty ugly. If any of it is moist enough you can use a really sturdy garden fork to push in, wiggle back and forth, and pull out, just to get the clay to have some cracks and gaps in it that roots can exploit (sort of the idea of keyline plowing on a very small scale), that might also help, but without some way to get moisture to penetrate enough that you can get a fork in, try that with caution, as I once tried jumping on the fork and the ground was so heavy I bounced off and had quite a tumble!

Another approach I took where our soil is really thin over clay/rock/mineral soil is I used a pick ax/shovel/every tool I had to dig a hole about 2 ft by 2 ft and then I kept filling it with anything that would compost along with a sprinkle of the dirt I'd removed. Everytime the level dropped, I added fresh organic matter topped with dirt. This added moisture as well as nutrients down deeper and encouraged earthworms to help you break up the soil from below. I've tended to do that near trees/shrubs I've planted, as the presence of goodies will encourage the plant roots to break up the soil also. In my ecosystem, the trees seek out underground dead wood and "mine" it.
 
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Caren Pilz wrote:The clay was perhaps a little darker but still either dry dust or solid concrete like chunks.  The wood chips looked more mummified than starting to decompose.  So what should I do next?



Sounds like a water deficiency to me.
 
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