Ashley Clark

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since Jul 16, 2014
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Recent posts by Ashley Clark

yes! thank! you! everybody!
9 years ago

Craig Dobbelyu wrote:I'll start with a few questions that might help some others add their two cents.

What is currently growing in this space? If nothing: what is the closest living plant species to this space? in this particular area, lots of blackberries

Shade or sun? How much sun (hours)? no shade whatsoever, it's right in the middle of a field

Major tree species in the area? the terrain and soils change throughout the property, but where the soil appears to be similar to my example, there are lots of water oaks, willow oaks (i think?), pine trees, red maples

What is living in the soil? Bugs, worms, microorganisms? i know there are worms and probably grubs

What types of wildlife are visiting the area? rabbits, deer, raccoons, snakes, cranes, etc

Aside from your comment about the soil-y look I might have suggested that the soil lacked oxygen.

Is it crumbly soil? chunky? flat? compacted? loose? wet? dry? clay? sand? silt? it's dark and crumbly but takes on a clayey consistency when wet, as far as i can tell it's not compacted but rather soft and easy to dig into

If there are stones... what kinds? How big? How many? some when dug up, as in MAYBE 5-10 per yard, i'm not sure what kind, probably the size of my fist at the largest

What about the land's history? Was it previously farmed? for what? Any idea of past usage? How long ago? i don't know a lot of details but that 10 or more years ago there were two crops grown here, watermelon and squash i think. since then there have been trailers on the property but not where i'm looking at dirt

How large is the area? square feet? acres? square miles? the area with this particular topsoil, if i had to guess, around 2 acres

Is it possible that the soil has been contaminated by something? i don't think so

What is uphill from this location? there's a trailer about 100 ft away

does it flood? some areas are low enough yes but not all of it


I'll stop there.



i realize the soil here is like on par with coca cola, which seems odd to me too... 3.8 is the lowest, other areas vary between 4.2 and 4.8. i sent a bunch of bags of soil to UF about a year ago.

also, for what it's worth, i've experimented with this stuff a little bit -
in a 20 ft bed i put about 1/2 topsoil and 1/2 compost for sweet potatoes which are overflowing more than they ever have and the leaves are the size of my head, i assume from an excess of nitrogen?
in another area i made a mixture, off the top of my head i can't remember the exact measurements but i believe it was like 5 feet of topsoil, 4 feet of compost/manure, 1 foot perlite, 5 gal of worm castings and the results are mixed. most stuff i stuck in there (cucumbers radishes watermelon mustard greens) not surprisingly ended up spindly and weak. others plants, however, like pole beans and especially tomatoes *appear* to be fabulous.

i'm getting a little frustrated just because of constantly mixed results - nothing is as easy as "this works" and "this doesn't work" which i gUESS IS WHY ONE CAN BE FORMALLY EDUCATED IN THIS JUNK (which i plan to in the near future, i've only been fooling around with this for less than a year)

maybe it's a pipe dream but i guess the desired result would be to stabilize whatever it is i'm working with and not rely on purchasing stuff from nurseries or w/e
9 years ago
thank you so much for your response

amendments are fine, i just meant to imply that i do not want to go and purchase potting soil and miracle grow and other related things. ideally i would love to have the resources on site to fix these problems myself (ash, compost, etc). but i don't fully understand the way these things work on soil on a molecular level, i guess? all the soil is rich in OM but extremely acidic which is obviously really problematic

anyway so instead of reading the same things over and over and various eHows, it is important to me to know how creative others can be and based on their experiences which routes they would take

(e.g. after studying up pretty hard on sheet mulching it was helpful to know from some people in this forum that cardboard actually takes ages to decompose in some cases)
9 years ago
also no volcano eruptions even though i think that would probably be the most ideal solution
9 years ago
in order to make this topsoil into soil suitable for growing edibles (whatever ordinary fruits/vegetables), what would you personally do?

3.8 pH
high nitrogen >159 ppm
low potassium 16 ppm
medium magnesium 22 ppm
calcium 183 ppm

ps its composition looks reasonable, it's black and nice and soil-y
pps youre not allowed to go to home depot sorry
9 years ago
i'm thinking that distributing the materials ordinarily used in sheet mulching en masse with a manure spreader might be a decent idea but hrmrmrmrmmm
9 years ago
i live on about six acres in central florida. the terrain and soil condition vary widely, but almost all the soil is very acidic and not exactly useful for intentionally growing much of anything. out in the open there's a lot of clay, but in the woods the soil is really pretty and dark and fluffy (tons of decaying trees and pine needles make for nice compost, still acidic and low in nutrients unfortunately). right now we get our resources like compost/manure/soil from local nurseries or farms, but the ultimate goal is to produce most of these things ourselves. what can one do to improve the fertility of the soil on a grand scale without importing and erupting a volcano??? we are sheet mulching in some areas, is this going to be the best method of improving our soil situation? make it suitable enough for other projects such as grow beds / germination / whatever? if possible it would be nice to be able to do it without having to outsource 100% of materials. wood ash is pretty accessible for starters
9 years ago
myself and my family have this sort of commune thing going that's being paid for by architectural work. so there is quite a bit of trash produced each day with prints that were wrong or changed or messed up.
a lot of the blank paper will be used in sheet mulching. but most of the paper has bits of black toner which is made from melted plastic. one option is to haul a dumpster out here and throw it all away. but i feel like there must be a better way to remove it than throwing it in the trash.
the plastic toner definitely wouldn't be okay for composting or mulching, right? does anybody know if something like this could be recycled with the city?

ps it's kip 3100 toner if anybody knows how to get more info on the ingredients or whatever

i realize this is probably such a weird question. but there is seriously so much paper piled up and i feel convicted to use or recycle it
9 years ago
I sent samples both to my county extension and then to IFAS for more thorough testing. Altogether for only six areas it costed about $60. But the reason I want a DIY tester is to keep track of drastic changes while we are adding different materials to the soil, and so we don't have to go through a three week process of passing soil around the state just to make sure we are doing things correctly.
If everything you can get on the market is useless crap, then it will just be something we have to deal with. But that's the question, ultimately, if there are any testers out there that can be relied upon for some accuracy.
10 years ago
Hi, this is my first time posting after lurking this forum for a while, I hope I'm posting in the right place.
I currently work on six acres in central FL which my family and I are hoping to dedicate to permaculture. Unfortunately, a large portion of the property is heavy clay or thick mud (especially summertime = nonstop rain). I recently had several soils from the property tested at a lab and most came back deficient of NPK and have very acidic pH, so our goal right now is to learn/try to amend some of these areas.
It makes sense to me that, for this process, we should invest in a DIY soil test for pH/NPK/nutrients but I am having a difficult time placing confidence in random ones I've found on Amazon or wherever, I guess because I'm not exactly sure what to look for. I have also considered getting a test for water pH just to be completely sure of the resources we are currently working with. If anybody has any thoughts on this or recommendations, I would be very appreciative to hear.

Also - any thoughts or methodology about soil amendment in general are greatly appreciated as well. I'm still learning. Thanks!
10 years ago