Rocky Soil - Knowledgebase Question

Bridgeport, CT
Question by lpnurse
February 18, 1998
I just moved into a beautiful home with a huge yard. I bought sunflower seeds to plant, but the soil is very rocky and I don't know if the flowers will grow. Would you please give me some advice regarding my sunflower garden?


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Answer from NGA
February 18, 1998

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I've faced that same dilemma in some of the places I've gardened.

It really depends on just how rocky your soil is. If you have lots of rocks in the soil, but the actual soil itself is good, then the best thing to do is hand-pick the rocksfrom the bed. More will appear every year, as the frost heaves them to the surface, so it will be a long process. But if you can get a section relatively free of large rocks--say, more than 3" across--so that there is plenty of good soil, then go ahead and plant your seeds. (Or to make it easier, you can just remove any rocks from the furrow when you plant the seeds.) Generally, if grass is growing well in the yard, then the soil is probably fine.

If, on the other hand, your soil is sandy or gravelly, then you'll have more work to do. You can still hand-pick the larger rocks, but you'll have to do some work to improve your soil. Adding organic matter--compost, well-rotted manure, leaves, grass clippings--will improve the water-holding capacity of the soil, and help supply some nutrients.

You might also choose to build raised beds, and bring in some topsoil.

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