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Trying to restore my garden soil (Cheap & Lazy!)... wanna critique my strategy?

 
pollinator
Posts: 370
Location: SW Missouri • zone 6 • ~1400' elevation
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T Melville wrote:I found a link here on permies to find out what your weeds tell about your soil. Here's what it said about weeds I recognize from my garden:

bindweed:......................compacted
dandelion:......................low calcium, high potassium
henbit:...........................high nitrogen
lamb's quarter:...............rich, high nitrogen
oxalis (wood sorrel):.......low calcium, high magnesium
plantain (a little):............compact, sour, low fertility, heavy clay





bindweedcompacted: HIT1/1
dandelionlow calcium: MISShigh potassium: HIT1/2
henbithigh nitrogen: (Not Tested?) NO SCORE0/0
lamb's quarterrich: NO SCOREhigh nitrogen: NO SCORE0/0
oxalis (wood sorrel)low calcium: MISShigh magnesium: MISS0/2
plantaincompact: HITsour (Acidic?): HIT (barely)low fertility: NO SCOREheavy clay: HIT3/3
Total Score5/8


I don't see that I have any test results for nitrogen level, richness, or fertility levels. Are any of those addressed by my percent organic matter? if anyone corrects me on this, I'll revise my table. As it stands right now, (and based on the narrow cross section of weeds that I recognize by sight) using weed growth to gauge soil nutrition was slightly more accurate than trying to choose values by coin toss. Not terribly useful, at least at the level of effort I put into it.

At any rate, I now have values based on lab testing. They seem to think I have plenty of the "big three" nutrients. Looks as though I need to work on decompaction more than anything else. Do you folks think I'd still be okay to amend with sheep and goat manure of mixed ages, and some OLD cow manure? I also have access to some horse manure, mixed ages. Is that balanced enough to just think of it as organic matter and loosening the soil? Or would I potentially give myself issues with too much nitrogen?

Do I need to remediate for the potassium and phosphorus levels? If so, how? Do I have enough organic matter, or should I try to increase?
 
pollinator
Posts: 197
Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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Manures are high in phosphorus, and you seem to have an excess of that already. Skip manuring that soil for a few years. Instead, grow nitrogen fixing legumes in the soil. They will add nitrogen and help use up some of that phosphorus. Beans and peas would be great crops.

Where there is excessive phosphorus, plants sometimes have trouble taking in enough zinc and iron. Getting a foliage spray of these minerals can help your plants cope in that excess phosphorus environment.
 
pollinator
Posts: 167
Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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T Melville wrote:I'm attaching the MSDS for the sheetrock. The way I read it, it's safe. I thought I saw a mention of fire retardant, but can't find it now.



I have a degree in chemistry, almost 10 years industrial experience, experience reading MSDS's, and 21 years experience teaching chemistry.
That's not to toot my own horn, but, to let you know I have a bit of knowledge.

I read that MSDS front to back and don't see anything that would concern me having that brand of wallboard in my soil.
It doesn't say what they are using as a binder, which should be just a few percent by weight.
So, the binder is the question mark at this point.
 
gardener
Posts: 6699
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau T. Melville,  I'd look into using wood chips for mulching that soil instead of manures. I Like the idea of growing green manures for chop and drop and most of the usual characters we use for that will be able to help some with the high P and K values.
If you have some DE you might want to give the soil a light dusting, the silica will do some very good things for your microbiome and it will allow plants to draw in zinc and iron even with excessive quantities of P and K.

Redhawk
 
T Melville
pollinator
Posts: 370
Location: SW Missouri • zone 6 • ~1400' elevation
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau T. Melville,  I'd look into using wood chips for mulching that soil instead of manures. I Like the idea of growing green manures for chop and drop and most of the usual characters we use for that will be able to help some with the high P and K values.
If you have some DE you might want to give the soil a light dusting, the silica will do some very good things for your microbiome and it will allow plants to draw in zinc and iron even with excessive quantities of P and K.

Redhawk



I have a section of it in a cover crop of White Millet, Buckwheat, Black Oil Sunflower, Mung Bean and Lentil. As you can probably guess, the buckwheat is dominating. I'll be watching for a chance to add wood chips or sawdust on the cheap. How about leaves, straw, or dried grass clippings? I guess the wood brings the most carbon and makes a longer lasting home and food for the helpful fungi, critters and bacteria, but that other stuff contributes too, right?

I also didn't know the DE would help. I've been meaning to get some for bug control anyhow.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 6699
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1357
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
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Any Organic material works for mulch and for most composting as well.
If you want mushrooms to eat then you really need some wood chips but these can be mixed in with other organic matter.
Most of the time we are just wanting to feed our microbiome organisms so they remain healthy and can do their jobs for our plants.

It seems to me that silica is one of the best kept secrets to good nutrition, it is a necessary component for all living things, without it we humans can not process iron, manganese and other vitally important minerals.
Zinc is another best kept secret it seems, even though lots has been written about its role in human health, you usually have to go looking for that information instead of it being in the general knowledge as it should be.

I like your cover mix, If you can you might do even better by adding some of the clovers; yellow, and crimson work well in pasture areas and  won't out compete the other plants in the mix.

Redhawk
 
T Melville
pollinator
Posts: 370
Location: SW Missouri • zone 6 • ~1400' elevation
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T Melville wrote:I'll be watching for a chance to add wood chips or sawdust on the cheap.



Got a chainsaw and a chipper / shredder for Christmas. (Electric, from Harbor Freight, don't get too excited.) One grove of my bamboo has been getting out of hand, making it hard to see when we back out of the driveway.



So I went out today and started bringing it under control. Ran out of cord, time and gumption almost at the same time. Plus I was almost out of daylight. I stopped and moved my output out by the garden.



The shredder isn't very fast, but my pile of bamboo is slowly becoming a mulch of leaves and "chips". (More like sawdust.) I ran out of daylight. Still a lot of work to do, but it's not very hard work, and I think I'll benefit from it.



So, a problem is a solution. (To a different problem.) That's not quite what they say... So, did I permaculture?
 
T Melville
pollinator
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Location: SW Missouri • zone 6 • ~1400' elevation
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So... the bamboo leaves clog the chipper, if I leave them on and try to feed it a culm's worth at a time. I could strip 'em off and feed 'em in slowly, but that's more time and effort than I'm looking to expend.

I'm stingy with hay. I don't like to feed until they clean up the last batch. (Obviously, if I notice them losing condition, I'll feed more often. The "waste" will just have to become soil improvement.) Labor is not thrilled with this management decision. Today we reached an agreement so that work may continue.





Function stacking.........check.
Problem = solution.......check.

I'm gonna call it permaculture until someone who's taken a PDC tells me to stop.
 
Phil Swindler
pollinator
Posts: 167
Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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T Melville wrote:So... the bamboo leaves clog the chipper, if I leave them on and try to feed it a culm's worth at a time. I could strip 'em off and feed 'em in slowly, but that's more time and effort than I'm looking to expend.

Function stacking.........check.
Problem = solution.......check.

I'm gonna call it permaculture until someone who's taken a PDC tells me to stop.



You need to feed the goats.
You need to get rid of the leaves.
2 birds with one stone.
Looks like a good idea to me.
 
T Melville
pollinator
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T Melville
pollinator
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My younger son asked if he could borrow our truck for work. They were moving leaves, and the truck would save a lot of effort. Of course I told him he could, and by the way, what were they doing with the leaves? So I ended up with a truck load of tightly packed dry leaves, mostly oak. Turned out they were packed too tight for my blower / shredder / vac to pull 'em loose. Also, there was lots of gravel in them. My harbor freight shredder didn't think that was cool. So I made a new plan.

I spread them in a place where we tried making a flower bed but lost the fight against the grass. Now I've started bringing sheep and goat manure to spread over the top. Figure that'll keep them in place and help them break down quicker. So what to put in my new lasagna bed? It gets more sun than my current garden. I'm thinking I'll try my tomatoes and peppers in it. Maybe come by once they're up a bit and put some low growing cover mix in place as mulch. I wonder if legumes are a good idea with that much manure present?





 
Phil Swindler
pollinator
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Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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T Melville wrote:My younger son asked if he could borrow our truck for work. They were moving leaves, and the truck would save a lot of effort. Of course I told him he could, and by the way, what were they doing with the leaves? So I ended up with a truck load of tightly packed dry leaves, mostly oak. Turned out they were packed too tight for my blower / shredder / vac to pull 'em loose. Also, there was lots of gravel in them. My harbor freight shredder didn't think that was cool. So I made a new plan.

I spread them in a place where we tried making a flower bed but lost the fight against the grass. Now I've started bringing sheep and goat manure to spread over the top. Figure that'll keep them in place and help them break down quicker. So what to put in my new lasagna bed? It gets more sun than my current garden. I'm thinking I'll try my tomatoes and peppers in it. Maybe come by once they're up a bit and put some low growing cover mix in place as mulch. I wonder if legumes are a good idea with that much manure present?



Turning a problem into a solution.  Sounds like a good idea to me.
 
T Melville
pollinator
Posts: 370
Location: SW Missouri • zone 6 • ~1400' elevation
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Just following up:
I did finish covering those leaves with manure, and did plant tomatoes and peppers there. Turns out a sheep or  goat's gut doesn't kill all the seeds. Meant to mulch it anyway. A nearby city is selling unscreened wood chips for $7 a yard. Right now they're BOGO.

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