Hay or straw may be excellent, good, or poor quality. So if you really do grow blueberries in soil with a pH of 7.5 – provide some references to support this position. In loam (good garden soil): add 1.5 to 2 pounds per 100 square feet. The blueberries in the background benefit from straw mulch, because their roots are shallow, and the plants are moisture lovers. Most garden and landscape plants perform best when the soil organic matter level is at least 2% (the goal for vegetable and flower beds should be 5%). Use these organic and natural methods to make healthy garden soil from common dirt. Using the cut alfalfa in your garden and compost adds these nutrients to the upper layers of your soil where other garden plants can use them. Does it leech nitrogen out of the soil as it decomposes? If your goal is to enrich your soil, then the nutritious hay is much better. The soil will not dry out, weeds will be surpressed. Sheet mulching in particular is a very effective way to keep weeds under control and create new planting areas. How to properly add soil to your garden beds to ensure optimal plant health. There is a natural stickiness in straw that helps to hold GardenStraw in place. Soil is usually acidified by adding ground sulfur. You know you have clay soil when you can take a handful and can form clay figures. To lower soil pH by about one point: In sandy soil: add 1 pound ground sulphur per 100 square feet. It helps protect plants during the growing season and soil in the off-season and adds organic matter, over time increasing soil microbial activity and improving soil health. By Charlie Nardozzi, The Editors of the National Gardening Association . The covered soil is maybe not as soft as freshly tilled soil at the top, but is much softer all throughout than tilled soil will ever be. You can also incorporate naturally acidic organic materials such as conifer needles, sawdust, peat moss and oak leaves. By now everyone knows that the best thing to add to a soil to make it work for their plants is organic matter. Straw bale gardens were devised by horticulturist Joel Karsten. If you had a pH of 7.5 and modified the soil, for example by adding sulfur, then your soil is no longer 7.5. Just be sure to reinforce the bales with wire, as an overgrowth could cause the bale to collapse. Mulching veggie beds can increase porosity, minimize weeds, enhance soil retention, warm soil temperatures and add slow release nutrients. This just came into my mail box. For clay soil, organic additions improve drainage and aeration and help the soil dry out and warm up more quickly in the spring. He recommends acidity (pH 4-5.5). The qualities that make for good garden soil fall into two categories: fertility and texture. The effects aren’t all good, however. Harvesting Your Straw Bale Garden. If you don't compost it, save it to use as mulch. Alfalfa roots reach down into the sub-soil up to 8 feet, bringing valuable hard-to-reach nutrients up to the soil surface where they are stored in the leaves of the plant. Straw isn’t a magic wand that can make your veggies grow in a shorter growing period than usual. Never throw straw away. Whether you are trying to get more blooms from your flowers or a bigger harvest of fruits and vegetables, what you need is living, fertile, active soil to produce a fabulous garden. Check the depth of the layer in between rows after about six weeks. Odd as it seems, animal manure is an organic material that is often used to improve garden soil. These soils are loose, easy to prepare for planting seeds and plants, and have a large number of earthworms. Although garden soil seems ordinary, it's actually a complex mixture of organic materials, minerals, and other nutrients. There are minor fluctuations in nitrogen levels as the straw decomposes. ), to help keep the weeds down and moisture in the soil … Adding some form of organic matter to the soil each year is a good garden practice. Adding straw mulch to my marigolds 11. You could consider straw bale gardening a form of composting and gardening simultaneously. The basic acts of turning soil, sowing seeds, watering, and nurturing the plants literally consists of acting in a loving, gentle, and kind way towards your body and the body of the Earth. Root Vegetables. In your garden organic matter is usually added in the form of compost, though it can also come from organic mulches such as wood chips, straw, or leaves as they break down. Mulch–that is, material (usually organic) laid on the soil surface–is a tremendous ally in the garden. In addition to the use of animal manure to add organic matter, any composted plant material such as leaves, cotton burrs, hay, or straw will do. By Harvey Ussery ... wood chips, sawdust, straw, coco hulls, leaves, shredded leaves and grass clippings. Gardening is an inherently healing activity. Adding pea straw to garden soil also increases the nutrient content of the soil as it starts to break down. Numerous garden centers stock straw, too. Do not turn over the soil just loosen it. Root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips thrive well in loose soil, and straw bales are to their benefit. By Jeff Gillman, PhD – for GrowingAGreenerWorld.com. Not only are they pleasant in a salad, or as a garnish on the plate, they make your straw bale garden beautiful too. As it decomposes, the straw contributes valuable nutrients to the soil. A bale of straw costs about $4 in my area. goal is simply to cover the soil, as for paths, then straw is fine. Mulch helps trap the moisture in the soil, and it keeps it warm, damp and fertile. Organic matter is the key to amending less-than perfect garden soil. Lesser qualities will have more seeds and weeds. For starters, fall mulching gives you the upper hand on spring weeds. First, do a simple soil test, and with these 19 ways to improve garden soil, we tell you exactly what you need to add to fix it up and have nutritious soil for growing your dream garden. Adding sand to clay soil, in any amount, has been proven by the University of California Agricultural Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be about the worst thing anyone can do for their garden soil. Potato crops are huge when grown in a foot or two of straw on top of the soil. A bale of straw should cover roughly 1,000 square feet of lawn if it's applied so that the soil is visible through it. If you feel like the soil is still hard you can work it with a Broadfork, or simple garden fork. Your veggies will be ready for harvest around the same as soil-grown varieties, although it will be more comfortable as you won’t have to bend. On the other hand my luffa sponges are growing like mad & putting on their 3rd flush of “fruit” now in Sept! (OSU Ext Svcs) b) Water droplets from rain or irrigation on a mulched surface can’t directly hit the soil. Thread in the Soil and Compost forum forum by charles1999: Hi, I have a compost bin in backyard. It depends upon the variety of mulch you choose to use and what benefit you want it to exert. To fix mucky clay or sandy sand soil, add plenty of organic matter.You can’t change the type of soil you have, but adding organic matter makes your soil more like loam, which is perfect for plant roots. They don’t have as much manure or straw as the rest of the garden which has between 1 & 2 feet of straw around the plants & I water thru it as well as … Good organic amendments for garden soils include wood by-products such as sawdust and bark mulch, peat moss, rotted manure, grass or wheat straw and compost. The soil beneath a pile of rotten hay or straw improves marvelously after a year or so, leaving a patch of humus-rich earthworm-populated earth. Why Use Manure Alone or added to compost , manure improves the soil's texture with the bonus of adding some nutrients to the soil … Weeds compete with garden plants, and from a soil perspective, they steal organic food away from the living soil. Clay soil can be transformed in a loose, easy to work garden soil with time, patience, and persistence. The idea is to use bales of straw to act as a growbag of sorts for your plants, eliminating the need for soil and significantly lowering the price for starting a garden. Leaves that have decomposed for a year or two are considered to be leaf mold, a rich and crumbly “black gold” for garden soil. Reduces soil erosion and crusting a) The organic matter helps to keep the soil crumbly and easy to work. You’ll probably need to add another layer, to the depth of 2 or 3 inches (5-7.5 cm. On sandy soils where water passes through very quickly and soil can become dry too fast, pea straw helps to hold onto moisture so that it is available to plants for longer. The soil particles are able to group together or aggregate more. A new use of straw bales — at least to me — is the practice of planting crops directly into the bales, or straw bale gardening as it’s come to be known. It often comes with some of the bedding material (straw, hay, sawdust) mixed in. And if you use newspaper, shred or crumple the paper so it doesn’t mat and block oxygen to the soil. It keeps plants upright, channels water and air to their roots, and feeds their growth. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a quick way to get a garden going without worrying about improving the soil. Here is Lee Reich’s recommendation for blueberries. I get it from a farmer nearby. Adding organic matter in the form of leaves, hay, bark mulch, peat moss, and untreated grass clippings all help to make clay soil more workable. Most soil testing labs include organic matter in their basic soil test. Straw will compost pretty quickly in most garden settings. Most frequently and most usefully, compost is added to your garden as a soil amendment to improve soil structure, buffer pH, increase the population of micro- and macro-organisms, and add organic material on which soil organisms feed. If your garden soil is too sandy, too alkaline, too soggy or any of a number of problems, the good news is that it can be fixed! To ensure that it stays in the garden, containers, or lawn, after layering it down simply give your garden a thorough watering. Adding worms to a vegetable garden is a fundamental organic practice that even novice gardeners can master. The only modern challenge is the potential for it to be contaminated with herbicide. Using good quality of either is important, so learn basic evaluation of bales. 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