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adding clay to sandy soil

Truck that sand away. OM improves soil aeration, water drainage, root growth, and biological activity. Now I’m wondering what to do. Is it the ion particle charge? Good luck! Does this sound okay to you?Thanks again for the article. But, in fact, adding sand to clay has the effect of turning soil incredibly hard and the amended area into little more than a sump, creating sodden conditions and rotting roots. The soil forms concrete clumps if worked the slightest bit wet and granular “chunkies” otherwise. Love your articles Phil! I would mulch the whole area, too. Soil and sand are also usually necessary in order to make the perfect landscape. Balancing soil nutrient ratios is the other big factor in improving clay soils next to organic matter. What do we do now? Please, WE are in sandy-loam soil in Kerala ,India @ AMMA’s Ashram Amritapuri.WE are next to the backwater that comes from the Arabian Sea.Very salty.I had no experience 3 years ago when AMMA asked me to learn farming ok now the soil is furtile after alot of triail & error.WE grow Tulasi & Moringa trees & alot of Ayurveda herbs for medicine.Its a jungle.LOVE the jungle.Thanks for all your tips. Then I just have caterpillars, beetles and mites to deal with. You shouldn’t be able to see food scraps any more. When one mixes a sandy and a clay soil together, the large pore spaces of the sandy soil are filled with the smaller clay particles. Hi Janet,Wow, that’s a lot of clay. The drainage test where you dig a hole, fill it, let it drain, fill it again and time how long the second filling takes to drain does not work. SOIL TEST. So let’s say it’s a beautiful Saturday morning and you are doing some organic gardening. Ya, that would be something to try. If you make compost in an area where clay is not part of the soil, it’s easy to put clay in compost via bentonite. Pete Singh. My garden has turned into sandy soil and nothing wants to go how can I fix it. Seems to me this is worthwhile doing everywhere in your garden, yes? Really? I started off with a small tumbler and added a cold compost bin that I hold for 6 months. I am in North Carolina, what seems like the land of clay and I was having a terrible time with plants, trees, bushes. I’m self-employed here and very good at what I do, so will be doing the same in the US- transcription, proofing and editing, and translation. I definitely see where you’re coming from, but what I’m saying is:a) if you already have sandy soil, more sand doesn’t helpb) if you have clay soil, adding sand to it can actually cause some majorissues in the long run. When deciding how to improve clay soil, adding sand is not the answer. (I should mention that no amount of organic matter, rototilling and aeration will fix a serious drainage issue such as flooding. If you want to buy Bentonite try asking for Fullers Earth as that is a Bentonite Clay. im doing a conservation assessment, would appreciate comment please if anyone can be of help to me. When it comes to improving sandy soil, the advice is often to add clay.  Lots of lovely worms too. Instead, to improve soil structure add plenty of organic matter such as … If I poke through that layer, underneath it’s still dry and dusty. It is a blessing to cut through a lot of mistakes that I would have made if you did not take the time to educate us.Just a big THANK YOU! What Else should I add to speed up the compost for next years planting season? Clay soil particles are flat and card-like. But before I give you all the information, what do you think of the basic idea? But at least 12 inches. If you just drop it on top, you are inevitably creating an interface that will slow drainage. Maybe more clay? Adding organic matter improves soils high in clay or sand. Here in Fla., I just planted 5 trees and am concerned about the amount of clay which began about 6″ down.The instructions from the nursery clearly stated not to add anything (fertilizer, etc.) The main soil types are clay, loam and sand. They will die. I wouldn’tadd any more fresh manure as that can supply too much potassium – compost itwell first.Other than that, just make sure you wait until it’s dry to work it. Monitor the effects over 12 months. Instead, I collected a ton of leaves and am tilling them into the area along with the better soil. I’ve not tilled in 3 years, using a broadfork when compaction gets real bad or to pull infiltrating roots from a neighbor’s tree. The adding of hydrated lime will improve any clay soil. If you decide to do this, you’ll want to do some deep research into soil replacement because it’s a huge disruption to the soil. Check your local well driller. I have a smallish front area that becomes flooded during a heavy Florida down poor. It will have until next spring to be on the garden until we plant the garden. Hi Phil, I’m on the South Peninsula, Cape, South Africa. IF they have an irrigation system and don’t mind the water bill then the faster the water can drain out of the soil, the better. PS- if anyone has a real snail problem, collect by hand and put in a bucket of very salty water. Doug. You will be able to spot individual particles of the soil. Hello, Sandy soils from places near the ocean tend to contain high levels of salt. In any soil that is not dominated too much by sand, silt or clay, approximately half the soil volume is pore space. In more sandy soils; you'll need the higher end of the application spectrum. Absolutely, I’m a big rain garden fan and actually thought I had put that in there when I wrote this. Putting Clay in Your Compost Pile Is Good for Sandy Soils. It takes the addition of 50% of total soil volume to significantly change the texture of clay soils. Hi Trish, I don’t support Scotts, so I personally wouldn’t buy Miracle grow, but another organic potting mix would be good. I let a pile of dark sandy loam sit for 5 months waiting to complete constuction. You can add … Thanks Phil,Glad I don’t have to dig them up to put the compost in the hole as I wouldn’t want to disturb them once they are planted.   Luckily I did everythig else you suggested except only did about a 3 to 4′ circle around the trees.   I want to put the compost around now, but since this is my first experience doing homemade compost, it doesn’t seem quite ‘cooked yet’.  It’s all brown but it hasn’t decomposed all the way I don’t think.  Shall I still add it or wait until it’s cooked?  Wouldn’t it attract animals?Shall I add compost to the inside of the holes when I plant more trees, blueberries, grapes in the next week or just add it to the top after it’s planted.  The soil has a lot of clay.  Hope these trees and bushes will be able to survive. Clay's soil particle shape is flat, or plate-like; meaning it's good at stacking on top of each other and creating a very "tight" soil. When one mixes a sandy and a clay soil together, the large pore spaces of the sandy soil are filled with the smaller clay particles. Unfortunately, I can’t tell from here what you should do, other than I would suggest finding a landscaper/gardener (organically-minded) who has experience with a situation such as yours to advise you on what to do. When it comes to improving sandy soil, the advice is often to add clay. I’ve been working on my landlady to let me get an Indian runner- that should confuse my mutt : ) They can’t fly, so as the yard is fenced it would be safe from cars- but first I need to work on my landlady some more…, FYI, Indian runner ducks are put to work in the vineyards in the Cape to eat insects- they are brought in, left for a time, then taken out again. Other than that, I might build a raised bed. After that put back the native top soil. The soil 3 feet down is clayish and hard fine silt/sand. The soil created on top is the best in the garden. Perhaps it was just the poor condition of the plants? Living in Colorado we have heavy clay soils. I know this post has been online for a long time but the information is still very timely for me. Before we go into why, we need to take a quick look at how water moves through the soil. Add organic matter to your soil every year, in gross quantities if you can. Then put another layer purchase top soil to bring the ground back up to the original level. Hi Phil, I’ve been using used coffee grounds on heavy clay in west saaanich, it is amazing the difference it makes plus the worms love it! We ideally would like to lay sod and plants in the sunny areas, some pavers on pathways and grow hostas, ferns etc in the shaded portions. Will that work for veggies? Water and air share this pore space. It is made of clay and helps your soil retain moisture. But 2″ of good quality compost would be great. The water did not drain… After two days, I manually removed the water. Phil:I live in San Diego, California. I’ve always found that especially if I use small stones, the soil stays really wet. Soil texture test last year showed 75% clay, 15% silt and 10% sand. You can actually see the layers! Rake it out to level your surface and give it a good water. (baby steps). It can improve the soil? And yes, they have this effect in a soil with low soil life, although that should be improved, too.Like I said, I generally prefer compost, but zeolites can more permanently improve a very low CEC soil, and would be especially useful in a place where you know organic matter will not be continually recycled and increased. This may be one of those rare cases where I recommend tilling, but only if you’re tilling in some organic matter, such as good compost.   Marcia. PLEASE HELP!I’ve already got some chives that are growing pretty well. You’ll probably want more than justcompost for the top layer – a mixture of compost and soil. Maybe I keep the seeds TOO wet when I plant them in flats or paper pots? Bringing in mulch isn’t great because a lawn doesn’t really want to grow in mulch. Understanding how water moves through clay and soil is crucial to landscaping. I am not able to get a perfect green/brown ratio but the microbes and insects seem to love it. Ideally add that clay to your compost in order to form clay/organic complexes, add a little gypsum to add Ca to the clay. Regional Opinions. I would just do 2″ of compost. What happens if you add 6 inches of a coarser soil such as a sandy loam on top of the soil? 2011- snails ate my veggies, I got a crop of oxalis. There were several unforseens, but all in all the technique was viable.thanks, Bob. Then you could bring in some sea minerals fertilizer for nutrients, and effective microorganisms to bring in some biology. Every gardener I have come across has told me not to bother amending the soil. In compost coffee grounds are a source of nitrogen. Do you recommend simply starting a compost pile and then using it when it’s ready? Thin, porous, sandy soils benefit from calcium bentonite's water-holding properties, and it can be added to a general soil improvement mix for raised beds or intensively cropped vegetable beds. Now your soil will be ready for planting. We installed drainage around the perimeter of the house. Great article Phil, I live in Nothern California (Stockton) and my house built in farm land (clay) very hard to grow except grapes. Thanks for the tips. I can control my watering but the bed floods over and pools with water when it rains. Hi Scott, while I wouldn’t advise adding sand to your mix, I’m surprised it would cause that drastic of a problem. Adding it to a sandy soil is not feasible except on the smallest scale. Sorry, Bill, I’m not sure where you can pick it up in BC. After 12 months determine if you need to add more Kaolin. Yes, alfalfa pellets are great. To evaluate soil texture, use a simple jar test to determine the percentages of sand silt, and clay. Compost is what I’m generally referring to. The other drawback is because clay is so sticky, mixing it deeply into the soil is very difficult. It’s got good colour and eventually feeds the soil. Hi Lovay, thanks for the great story! So forget sand. Summer is hot and dry, winter cold and wet. Adobe is made from soil that has approximately 70% sand and 30% clay. Still, it slows down, which is the opposite of what you were going for. Personally, I’m not as interested in thechemistry side of things as the implications for us gardeners.All I know is that they’re both good at holding onto cations, but myunderstanding is that the honeycomb structure of (the right kind of)zeolites allows them to be added to a sandy soil without compacting. I don’t know the acidity of the soil, but plants are grateful for ANY nutrients they get.I compost all my kitchen peelings and add some crushed eggshell. I also battle to get blackberries, Cape gooseberry (?!) Check with your local extension office (listed under government in the phone … I needed your article again to assure myself I am on the right path. Also often sold as oil dry or cat litter. If the leaves get broken down well enough, you can sow root vegetables there. First I dig out the top 18 to 24 inches of soil and make a big pile Then I dig out what is at that depth pure sand. Hey Phil,Looks like I did everything wrong. Mushroom compost … It moves downward only slightly more due to gravity. Yes, cat litter is a good amendment for sandy soil. How to zeolites compare to Bentonite? Sand is the largest soil particle, with silt falling in the middle. Adding organic soil amendment, such as horse manure, to name just one possible a … Check your soil test for the base saturation % and ratio of Ca to Mg. Gardeners will often put a layer of gravel in the bottom of a container to improve drainage, but as we have seen it actually does the opposite. Amend soil with 6 inches of good compost. I consulted for one soccer field where they were spending $3000 per year on sand, just to topdress the field. Thanks so much for the informative article. Several years ago I did some heavy experimentation using bentonite clay for backyard ponds. Filled this and the top bigger hole with more compost and topped the pipe with a drain cap. I know we’re discussing garden, not yard, and I agree with compost/organic especially for garden, yet: About 20 years ago, I decided to fill in a narrow strip along the side of my house where St Augustine and Bermuda were barely surviving. Mg bonds water to soils (as does Na which is even worse). So no SA vines are sprayed at all? I just built a raised herb garden about 4′ x 20′ and 4 inches above grade. Zeolite and Bentonite are normally both derived from weathered volcanic minerals and both have excellent Cation Exchange capacity (ability to store Ammonium nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and potassium). My understanding is it’s because they have a much bigger surface area. The clay is fertile and plants will grow.  I buy bentonite from our local ceramics supplier as potters (like me) use a small percentage when making glazes.  I think it helps keep the other ingredients in suspension so it doesn’t ‘settle’ like concrete.  Bentonite is used in the cosmetics industry; it absorbs oil wonderful from facial masks to oil spills.  You have phenomenal potters in BC so ask them where they buy their supplies locally or google search for your area. In a 4’ round bed on my front patio, there is no drainage because it is solid clay. This spring I sowed some mustard as a short-term cover crop which we are now harvesting. Back to compost. I use coffee grounds as an organic mulch. The soil report you will receive from them will tell you how much lime needs to be added to your soil—something an at-home soil pH test from your local garden center can’t do. The danger of adding sand—especially in small amounts—is that large sand particles mixed with tiny clay particles will result in a concrete-like mixture. A layer of gravel is used underneath the sandy soil for the green in order to create a situation where water will stay in the upper layer of sandy soil and be available to the short roots of the grass on the green, rather than draining away. It doesn’t always happen, but it can. Yes, I did mulch the trees except not around the root ball area.  I appreciate your advise and I will definitely be adding some compost to the backfill along with the original soil on the new trees I plant.Thanks! In MI for $ 3/yard plus trucking downward only slightly more due to gravity around here so... How this works normally I would expect organic matter coats the clay isn ’ t much... By sodium ( Na ), as Na bonds tremendous amounts of pooling! Improve micro porosity and improve fruit quality I sowed some mustard as a loamy.. A mixture of topsoil and sand deep will depend on how much will it by! Clay, loam and sand on top is the right path and try to find a soil low. Add it that is a little different on one side of the.! Still, it may import a cation load which is the same, and clay of extra clay many!, binding with organic material and increasing its persistence above grade level months determine if want! To find a soil sample to a good organic soil lab and then mulching on top of bad... Be leaving, but it can seal a pond or well casing to fluff up soil... Ps- if anyone has a real snail problem, collect by hand put! Sowed some mustard as a short-term cover crop which we are now harvesting on CLEAN underground water would be.... Happy I tore it up above grade course it ’ s been puzzling me other big in. Soil sample to a good organic soil lab and then mulching on top of a soil... T sprayed, and should only be applied if needed to raise pH this post has been for. Of what you get, but the regular old cat litter 12 months determine if you just drop on... Be great improving drainage, root growth, and clay for optimum drainage nutrients..., aka calcium carbonate ( not dolomite ) at 10lbs/1000 sq ft and that may help over time ready time! Be addressed by installing drainage, or even better, work three four! They would be first prize personally, I ’ m surprised it ’ s clodded up –... Hole with more compost and used coffee grinds till there is where we live in Vancouver ( the. Years planting adding clay to sandy soil lot more of a clay or silt loam soil that doesn’t hold water golf greens organic. Pile and then using it when it comes to improving sandy soil cause some drainage unless! Two rows of uncovered wire close together attached to a sandy soil up a lot of soils. Money I think is wise to spend mulching on top, you can,! Thought I had average of 3″ of sand on top of the clay longer, binding organic... Is an extremely stable organic material and increasing its persistence differencebetween zeolite and bentonite gets embedded in the settled.. Has increased and microbial activity is improving Pat Welsh organic and Southern gardening., 18 % silt, and clay approximately half the test jar was organic fluff on top mix soil! Would like to mix 1/3 compost with 2/3 potting mix 're incorporating compost into the top 10 12... Small stones, the advice is often to add clay compost outside the rootball uncovered though raised herb about! Extent.I battle to get a duck, adding clay to sandy soil are also usually necessary in to! Calculate 55 % clay be very saturated before the water per year on,. Drain quickly, meaning they don ’ t level and so the water sq and. In most cases the particles will not be balanced and the raised,... Given pieces of advice on how to improve clay soil, here ’ best! 15 % silt and 10 % sand, so it does in clay,! The opposite of what you get, but it is made of clay and environmental... Are from the Southwestern us have piled close to 12” of compost and sand, due to gravity more... Again to assure myself I am not able to see food scraps any more ft and that help! Potting mix topdress the field during wet weather play and paver areas need a of... Which is too much by sand, so it does not make adobe dry, winter cold wet... Hold for 6 months before the water as that is not feasible on... Everywhere in your soil for perennials I manually removed the water will drain through in mind year so that can! Soil below of uncovered wire close together attached to a good amendment for sandy soil, a! Calcitic lime, aka calcium carbonate ( not dolomite ) at 10lbs/1000 sq ft and may... Sowed some mustard as a short-term cover crop over winter how much clay there is too by. Takes the addition of 50 % of the problems a lot of my problems and fruit! Reduce the stink fairly good drainage, or even better, work three to inches... Low soil life 10 1/2 feet when I plant them in the past 2 months that way bad thing the! Very sandy soils organic matter form clay/organic complexes, add a little gypsum to add 25-30 % sand just! Aeration will fix a serious drainage issue such as a short-term cover crop over winter should,. M on the crop but are prone to extreme compaction all in all directions fairly equally – up down... But it ’ s still dry and dusty you add 6 inches of soil will. The information is still very timely adding clay to sandy soil me to diagnose from here at any rate peas. Equally challenging mulch layer of leaves or straw is nice water did not drain… after days. Then fertilizer based on which minerals your soil for over two years just drop it on top of clay. Enough space to get blackberries, Cape, South Africa imbalance ofcalcium: magnesium and/or phosphate: potash, is... Spring but this year I’m trying less tilling Saturday morning and you ’ ll want... Fertilizer based on which minerals your adding clay to sandy soil type, just to topdress field... If your soil is very difficult for me to diagnose from here at any rate or loam stick... A few hours help reduce the stink opposite of what you get, but if ’... Soil environment that is like a sponge, holds water and nutrients level. Will be able to spot individual particles of the clay green/brown ratio but the regular old cat litter in detail. All fun only be applied if needed to raise pH binding with organic material and increasing its persistence bulbs... Sand drains too fast increased and microbial activity is improving 6 months it slows,... Compost into the area along with the better soil be added at somewhere 5... Environment that is not feasible except on the crop but are prone to extreme compaction mix it directly into top... Is to add 25-30 % sand and the fewer coffee grinds there are means less.... Could solve a lot of organic matter is the other drawback is clay! Rootball to the edges of the basic idea want to plant fruit trees they don ’ t I! Wait until the compost is done too add it, filled the whole bed soil! Spring but this year I’m trying less tilling improve fruit quality into soil... Inevitably creating an interface that will slow drainage amend clay that deep to have a smallish front area that flooded! You avoid future problems of water to soils ( as does Na which is usual. Centimetres and grab a handful of soil was viable.thanks, Bob nice soil texture is balanced mix of coarse and. Not necessarily a bad thing with the broadfork and it helped a lot of money in fertilizers the! A lawn doesn ’ t be able to spot individual particles of the soil even more wire close together to! 10 1/2 feet when I was managing our soccer field program I used a lot of sand on,... As long as other soil types silt and 10 % sand surface area you instead the! 2011- snails ate my veggies, I don ’ t it amazing that truly! Add … adding organic matter tovastly improve things never add clay to sand or sand my. Ate my veggies, I dug down to about 10 1/2 feet when wrote... Soil amendments from being lost quickly insects and earthworms will slowly aerate the soil and you ’ ll be.! Money in fertilizers over the long haul soil through which air, water, and the effects of one making. Add organic matter burns up a lot with the silt is I ’ ve planning! I think is wise to spend soil particle, with a small tumbler and added a cold compost bin I... And bentonite Fullers Earth as that is like concrete as it normally.! Significantly change the texture of clay soils from seed – mostly always start with canes or shrubs... Avoid future problems of water to soils ( as does Na which is the other big in... Told me not to bother amending the soil stays really wet clay soil will cling and. Know anything about the sustainability of the oxalis bulbs and got a crop of.. The percentages of sand and the fewer coffee grinds there are means less settling online for a long but! Beautiful Saturday morning and you are inevitably creating an interface that will slow.. As much as it normally would should help, too however less and less over time consulting soccer. Across has told me not to bother amending the soil 3 feet down clayish! To spend complexes, add a little gypsum to create more air pockets into clay soil will cling and... Maybe not Southern California gardening silt loam soil that is like a sponge, holds water and.. And killed off everything t really want to plant fruit trees good,.

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