Ask a Question forum: garden soil

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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 8, 2014 11:26 AM CST
Anyone know of a place in zip code 75778 (NE Texas) that delivers excellent quality garden soil? I'm not sure I can buy this without sand being added, but that's what I would like. Since I live on a sand hill, I really don't need more.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Mar 8, 2014 11:33 AM CST
If Texas is anything like Georgia... you aren't going to find what you are looking for...
Around here... a truckload of "topsoil" tends to be damp sand.
We have to make our own topsoil... I like manure and wood chips...

If you need it delivered, maybe you could search mushroom compost.

It's often possible to get your mulch delivered free!
http://www.stonethegardener.com/wp/2012/07/free-mulch/
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 8, 2014 11:49 AM CST
I have been adding compost to my soil the last two years. It has improved, but still I get very few veggies (2013). Rather than having another unsuccessful year, I thought I would invest in some decent soil. If I can find any. That's funny about Georgia top soil. Here, top soil ( sold by individuals, not companies) seems to be the part of soil someone digs up for a pond, or house, or scrapes from the side of the road for making a ditch. Trash soil.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Mar 9, 2014 9:21 PM CST
I know it won't help for this year but have you considered using green manures to till in for soil improvement?
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 9, 2014 9:28 PM CST
Green manures?
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Mar 9, 2014 9:34 PM CST
Cover crops that get tilled back into the soil like rye, clover, vetch, buckwheat and so on.
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 9, 2014 9:59 PM CST
I've never done that mostly because I considered it an urban legend. No?
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Mar 9, 2014 11:26 PM CST
Urban legend? No.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Mar 10, 2014 7:42 PM CST
There are many different cover crops for different regions and different needs. Climate, season you plan to plant it, current soil type and most-urgent soil needs will narrow down what is best in an area.

Clover, alfalfa, buckwheat, fall rye, cow peas and vetch are classics. If you Google "cover crops", you can find tables listing what each crop is good at.

Some crops are good for breaking up heavy clay (they can grow in it, and will put down deep roots through it).

Some tolerate infertile soil, drought and heat better than others.

Some produce a lot of organic matter. Others fix nitrogen. Others are good for competing with and suppressing weeds. Others fight erosion well. Something was listed for "water management" but I don't know if that was to resist erosion during monsoon rain, or mitigating droughts.

I guess some combine well with no-till systems. Some grow right UNDER other crops and are called "living mulch", like clover in an orchard.

The easiest way to pick one is to go to a local feed store and ask what they stock in bulk: that's what works best in your region. Often it will be a mix of plants, where some emerge rapidly and have long, stiff stems for others to cling to and be supported by. In my area, there is usually a lot of Fall Rye in such mixes. Just find out what season each mix is intended for, and "annual vs. perennial".

Probably the best way is to ask a local coop extension agent or local university Ag department's public outreach department, or local Master Gardeners.

The "Coop Extension Finder " link in my signature block would get you there eventually. I didn't find much right away, so you might have to contact someone below and ask a question. (They might refer you to another website or person.)

The "Texas A&M" link lists every county. If your ZIP code is Henderson County, try this link:
http://henderson.agrilife.org/
The Henderson County Extension Office Hansford-TX@tamu.edu

Henderson County Master Gardeners:
E-Mail Henderson County Master Gardeners: henderson-tx@tamu.edu
Henderson County Master Gardeners, 101 E Tyler, Athens, Texas 75751
903-675-6130

Contact info for actual people to email or call in Henderson County, like Rick Hirsch,
the County Extension Agent:
http://henderson.agrilife.org/contact/


Be somewhat ready to tell them what you want from it, like
1. "produce lots of biomass fast to amend sandy soil" and "just a catch crop to grow through late fall and winter of one season"
or maybe
2. "something perennial to grow there for a few years".

For background research, try Googling cover crop selection guide, for example:
http://covercrops.cals.cornell.edu/decision-tool.php

Table of cover crops with list of what each one does well:
http://www.groworganic.com/media/pdfs/solution-covercrops-20...

http://www.territorialseed.com/product/15484

Peaceful Valley "browse cover crop solutions" links :
http://groworganic.com/organic-gardening/cover-crop-solution...

Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 10, 2014 8:23 PM CST
That's great information. Thank you.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Cut Flowers Composter Keeper of Poultry Keeps Goats Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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abhege
Mar 10, 2014 8:25 PM CST
Aw Rick, I've missed you. Thanks for the information.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 11, 2014 2:19 PM CST
I tip my hat to you.

I hope it's useful. I always have some cover crop mix on hand, and intend to sow it much more often than I do. Something fast like buckwheat is probably worth planting any time a patch of soil is idle for a month.

Once I test-sprouted a cover-crop mix on a coffee filter. Boy, those are VIGOROUS sprouts! I thought they were going to climb out of the dish, shoulder me aside, and march out the door to plant themselves.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Cut Flowers Composter Keeper of Poultry Keeps Goats Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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abhege
Mar 11, 2014 2:36 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
We almost always throw some buckwheat in after first spring crop and before fall crop.
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 11, 2014 3:19 PM CST
And then you have to shovel it under? Doesn't the cover crop decomposing take away from nutrients for the plants?
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 11, 2014 6:50 PM CST
Cover crops get plowed under or mowed while green, not brown. They add N and organic matter instead of consuming it.

More like green grass clippings than brown leaves.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Cut Flowers Composter Keeper of Poultry Keeps Goats Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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abhege
Mar 11, 2014 8:41 PM CST
Hence the term "green manures."

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