Vegetables and Fruit forum: Newbie, south Alabama

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Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
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Intheswamp
May 31, 2017 7:39 AM CST
I can understand their desire to keep trees growing, it does give them a "buffer" of sorts with the neighbors (including you) plus having substantial living creatures in close proximity to them. But, I can understand your desire to get more sunshine piped into your garden area. I've never really lived in a closely populated area so I can't really relate to your situation. What you are describing reminds me of a land-locked property owner who can only access their property via someone else's property...access is literally owned by someone else until they can acquire some type of binding easement agreement...which usually requires $$$. So sorry to hear that you're in the situation that you're in. One thing, though, is you should have the legal right to trim any limbs or branches that cross the property line and hang over your property, but you can only cut up to your property line and not beyond it. I don't know if that would help any or not being as it sounds like that one tree that doesn't give the neighbors any shade is most likely on a northern property line, that, along with your latitude tells me there is a strong cast shadow involved.

Buying a house to acquire sunlight...yeah, that's a bit desperate. I guess desperate times calls for desperate measure, eh? You definitely have my best wishes (I don't believe in luck). :)

Ed
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
May 31, 2017 7:56 AM CST
Thanks Ed. I'm thinking that buying the SE house would be a decent investment in the long term anyway, and I could cut down the shading trees in the short term. I can afford it as an investment. But greedy for the sunlight now. LOL!

A desire to garden drives some people to great lengths.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
May 31, 2017 9:44 AM CST
Intheswamp said:Weedwhacker, your thoughts on the tomato leaves was exactly what I was wondering about...being these were leaves of young plants hopefully they have no disease. Do you pull the old tomato plants up by the roots or cut them off at ground level? Do you plant them in the same area each year?
Ed


I pull the plants out by the roots -- I'm not sure there's any particular benefit to that, though. I try to move them to a different place in the garden each year but not very successfully; pretty much every square inch of my garden has had tomatoes growing in it fairly recently. But, ideally they should be rotated to an area where tomatoes, potatoes and peppers haven't been grown for at least 3 years.

In what I refer to as my "former life" (aka my 1st marriage) we had a garden area that was several times larger than we actually planted to veggies; 2/3 of it was planted to cover crops each summer, which were then turned under to add organic matter to the soil, and we planted the vegetables in a different third of the area each year -- that made rotation of the crops very simple! Smiling
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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
May 31, 2017 1:43 PM CST
Weedwhacker said:

I pull the plants out by the roots -- I'm not sure there's any particular benefit to that, though. I try to move them to a different place in the garden each year but not very successfully; pretty much every square inch of my garden has had tomatoes growing in it fairly recently. But, ideally they should be rotated to an area where tomatoes, potatoes and peppers haven't been grown for at least 3 years.

In what I refer to as my "former life" (aka my 1st marriage) we had a garden area that was several times larger than we actually planted to veggies; 2/3 of it was planted to cover crops each summer, which were then turned under to add organic matter to the soil, and we planted the vegetables in a different third of the area each year -- that made rotation of the crops very simple! Smiling


For what it's worth... I dig out my old tomatoes and even shake the dirt off in the wild area of my yard. The stems and roots go in the trash. That's about the only thing I won't compost.

I have 6 framed beds and am rotating the tomatoes and peppers together through them. There is a small area I replant hybrids (Big Beef, just as backup). And I'm careful not to move soil from one framed bed to another. What grows in a bed, stays in a bed.

Growing good heirlooms in new soil and barely enough sunlight is hard enough. I don't want to ruin my rotation plans.

Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
May 31, 2017 2:20 PM CST
Yardenman said:Thanks Ed. I'm thinking that buying the SE house would be a decent investment in the long term anyway, and I could cut down the shading trees in the short term. I can afford it as an investment. But greedy for the sunlight now. LOL!

A desire to garden drives some people to great lengths.

<chuckle> Makes perfectly good sense to me! My question is....is there garden area with the SE house? :)

Well, as for as "garden drives"...I've heard of folks in Amish territory racing there neighbors out to the road apples after a buggy has passed by. Big Grin

Ed
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 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.
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RickCorey
May 31, 2017 5:27 PM CST
>> I may try to trench in a run of pvc pipe...down here we don't have a "frost" line...we just have "lawn-mower" and "run-over-it-with-your-vehicle" lines so it won't have to be too deep.

You might consider 3/4" PVC irrigation tubing instead of PVC pipe. Buried under mulch or a trench, it might last almost as long as PVC. Or at least, "long enough".

And it should be much easier than gluing rigid pipe together every 10 or 20 feet.

https://www.dripworks.com/3-4-...
100 feet for $32
https://garden.org/ideas/view/...


Far from "rank beginners", it sounds and looks very professional to me.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
May 31, 2017 6:38 PM CST
Yardenman, it sounds like you have a great system for rotating the plants! Thumbs up
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jun 1, 2017 5:42 AM CST
Yardenman and Weedwhacker, thanks for the feedback on the tomatoes. That is interesting that you both remove all of the plant from the garden. I've read a few places where growing tomatoes in the same area seems to enhance their health. I'll have to see if I can dig up (no pun intended Rolling my eyes. ) that information. I can see where it would be good to get rid of the blighted/diseased plant matter, that makes sense. But, I wonder if it's an inoculation effect by planting repeatedly in the same spot...??? Confused For now, I'll definitely pull the plants and throw trimmed leaves and branches in the garbage...I try not to spit into the wind, either. ;)

One reason I asked the question about cutting the plant off or pulling it by the roots is that I'm considering going to a no till type of garden. I'm not getting any younger and (me and) my work hasn't been overly kind to my body (though there are much harder jobs to do than what I do). Evolving into no-till would be a smart move for me...I think. I had read where with peas and legumes to simply cut the plants off at ground level, letting the roots decompose below ground leaving organic matter, nitrogen (in the case of legumes), and air spaces. I guess I need to study up more on no-till and see how to deal with crop refuse.

Yardenman, when you say "What grows in a bed, stays in a bed." are you talking about spent plants that were growing there? You were talking about rotating the tomatoes and peppers together, but then you mentioned this. Kinda befuddled me a bit (Note: Not hard to befuddle Ed.<g>). Btw, you mentioned heirlooms...I think just about everything that I've planted is heirlooms...maybe the Roma tomatoes aren't(?). And, the bell peppers...remnants from a Sunday School lesson my wife had for the kids that we've kept alive...I'm not sure what they are as they were Bonnie Plant Farm seedlings. But, most everything else is at least open pollinated and most heirlooms. My goal is to save seed and "tailor" the plants to my soil/location.

Weewhacker, your "former life" rotation plan is something similar to an idea I once had about the garden. I'd thought of having four sections, and dedicating one to cover crops each year. I kind of blew that this year, though I still have a half a wide row that is empty (edge of melon area)...I might just get some buckwheat seed and plant it in that area...it would be some good practice on dealing with it. Looking at the "kill factor" I'm thinking along the lines of buckwheat (easy kill and incorporation) and cowpeas (also an easy kill, but not so sure of incorporation but I think not bad). "Former lives"...seems lots of us had'em.<groan>

Ed





"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jun 1, 2017 6:03 AM CST
RickCorey said:>> I may try to trench in a run of pvc pipe...down here we don't have a "frost" line...we just have "lawn-mower" and "run-over-it-with-your-vehicle" lines so it won't have to be too deep.

You might consider 3/4" PVC irrigation tubing instead of PVC pipe. Buried under mulch or a trench, it might last almost as long as PVC. Or at least, "long enough".

And it should be much easier than gluing rigid pipe together every 10 or 20 feet.

https://www.dripworks.com/3-4-...
100 feet for $32
https://garden.org/ideas/view/...


Far from "rank beginners", it sounds and looks very professional to me.

Yo, Rick! I would imagine the poly pipe would last as long as I will...kinda of ominous-sounding, comparing my life to poly pipe, but as a friend of mine often says..."it is what it is!". Hilarious!

The area between the garden and the closest water source is about 150-160 feet and is yard that we mow. I'll have to bury it below ground level to keep it from getting run over by the lawn mower. My reservation about the poly pipe is getting it to lay flat with only a thin layer of dirt on top...a hot, sunny day laying stretched out would probably do the trick, though. I'm still in the "figuring" mode on this...for now I've got a new 100' water hose and have another old one I hope to rehab into a working hose. I noticed that Dripworks states to use the poly pipe after timers and valves...I don't know if that's just one of those "it will work alright but we have to put this disclaimer in there" type of statements, or what? Smiling Using the poly pipe would definitely simplify things (and reduce the cost!). But, there again, gluing up pvc pipe doesn't bother me, either, and it would be permanent. We'll see... :0

Thanks for the encouraging words, too. The garden is coming around, but like I tell a buddy of mine...it looks pretty good, but success is a good harvest. Smiling I'll be glad to see some sprouts poking through the dirt...but we've gotta have some rain.

Btw, I received the drip-tape setup and I hope to install it this weekend. Since I've planted we've gotten a total of .23 inches of rain scattered over the last five days. I'm thankful for that rain, but we really need more. We're predicted for possibly .25-.50" for today and tonight...it would be *very* appreciated!!! I'm wondering if raised rows are going to work well down here in good ol' hot Dixie. Confused But, this short of period of time is too soon to tell...plus, with the drip tape I think things will be fine. I'll definitely be reporting how the irrigation system installation goes.

Ed
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Jun 1, 2017 8:19 AM CST
Ed, I stopped tilling my garden several years ago (somewhat accidentally, the spring was so wet that I wasn't able to till when I was ready to start planting, and by the time things dried up enough I had the garden pretty well filled up. I seemed to have fewer weeds that year, and lots more worms, so I just continued not tilling. The jury (the one in my mind) is still out as to whether it's less work -- in some ways I find it to be more work, actually -- but I think the soil has benefited from doing it this way. One thing that would help in terms of the "work factor" is a broadfork, but I haven't been able to bring myself to invest in one yet...

I have to admit to really liking the way freshly tilled ground looks, though Smiling
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Jun 1, 2017 9:11 AM CST
No till here also. You have your tilling and your set up now you don't need to till .

I just put compost on top of the soil and plant. That's it. Much easier than tilling for me.
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jun 1, 2017 11:30 AM CST
This is a first for me...posting from an iPhone!!! I can see where the soil will become its own ecosystem with no-till...I like the idea of it. But I also see the need for compost and mulching. I'm currently reading Building Soil by Elizabeth Murphy...good book mostly. I like the idea of composting on top of the soil,Newyorkrita.
One thing I did want to do was to add a picture of the garden from this morning.. the peppers are a long story but look beyond them. Smiling
Thumb of 2017-06-01/Intheswamp/71b0ab

"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
Newyorkrita
Jun 1, 2017 12:18 PM CST
What is sprouting there? Beans? Summer Squash? Cucumbers? Always so exciting when the seeds are coming up.

I use a lot of compost, sometimes have to delivered by the truckload. Anyway I then spread it on top of the soil and leave it. No tilling or turning in. Then for transplants such as tomatoes and peppers I simply lay on a thick layer of fall leaves or straw for mulch. That breaks down and enriches the soil also.

I don't use things like Miracle Grow. I use more natural fertilizers. One I love for building the soil as well as feeding plants is Neptune Liquid Seaweed Fish Blend.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 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.
Image
RickCorey
Jun 1, 2017 8:29 PM CST
Hi Ed

>> a hot, sunny day laying stretched out would probably do the trick, though.

That's what I found. Lay it out, then weight down both ends. Pull it straight and tight. Let the sun relax the curves.

I just barely remember reading someone who claimed that they could cut a SLIT in their lawn, push mainline down into the slit, and then just stomp to cover it back up. I dunno - maybe if you pushed a shovel-blade in pretty deep and then "levered" the slit apart pretty hard. In soft soil. Not my clay! That needs a pick.

>> it looks pretty good, but success is a good harvest.

Ahh, a "results-oriented" person! I already know that you will have great harvests, if not right now, then by fall. That "do what works" attitude is a winner.

I realize it is much more practical than my own preference for trying new, gimmicky things until I force them to work, at least somewhat. THEN I might go back to the easy way that most people use.

But if NO ONE ever tried silly-sounding things, how WOULD we discover new methods that might, some day, for some one, work better? I think that most things no one has ever tried, SOUND silly until they work.

- - - - -

RE no-till styles: I think that works better if you have or can afford what I think of as "LOTS of compost". Most people call that "enough compost".

My terrible beds seem to need OM and amendments turned under at least every few years, or at least the first 2-3 years the bed is being reclaimed from hard clay. Maybe I add and mix in as much as 20% compost each time, when it really needs an EQUAL volume of compost tilled in before the first year (100%, not 20%).

I gave more compost, gritty amendments and a few yards of "dirt yard soil" to my best bed. I excavated it all, several feet deep, then amended heavily and returned it to the bed. It filled up with roots which seem to hold the soil structure open.

Now I add an inch or so of compost each year (1/2 as much as "needed") and have mostly stopped tilling it except for the top few inches. But every few years I use a "sharpshooter" spade (? trenching spade ?) with a very long blade to turn deeply at least half of the bed so I'm sure some air channels remain deep down where clay has had a few years to illuviate and clog the soil's pores.

I truly have a drainage fetish. Here's what I did to assure drainage even before replacing almost all of the soil in it. There was already a slope, so I out the bed on the high point, and dug DOWN deeper in the low point. Now the bed is elevated around 18-20" above the low point. It drains and evaporates so well now that I had to line the wall with plastic so it didn't dry out within hours of watering.

Now THAT'S drainage! Before, not even dandelions or other weeds could grow there. The mud puddle seemed to evaporate over 5-7 days, but maybe SOME did perk down through the clay.

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The raised bed walls don't really need to lean back and forth so messily. I just never bother to tidy them up to be pretty. Except for some:

Thumb of 2017-06-02/RickCorey/2d1a85

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Having always lived with clay, and never knowing until the last decade or so that clay really does need more compost than clay to be really usable, I could no at first even believe that no-till was possible. Well, Dave's various websites introduced me to enough people that I believe, that I have to believe that no till is possible for some people, in some soils ... but not for cheap penny-pinchers that see a 6" layer of compost and think "there go my retirement funds for the decade!"

That's also why I dispute the "clay + sand = concrete" meme.

Clay without enough compost is, surely, cement.
The problem is "not enough compost".
The distinction between cement and concrete is not that significant.
What DOSE matter is "enough compost".

My theory, not a popular theory, is that adding grit, crushed stone, and grit-sized bark to heavy clay - - - plus 1/4 as much compost as is desirable, makes soil that I can grow things in.

That little compost plus nothing leaves me with heavy clay that is very anaerobic. Like clay soup when wet.

Also, "grit is forever". Bark lasts several years. Underground compost can be mostly-digested in 2-8 months, depending on soil aeration and soil temperature.

Feeding compost to clay is like feeding cocktail wieners to a cage full of hungry lions.
No matter how much you feed them, they want lots more.

(True, covering their cage 6" deep in cocktail wieners every day would do the trick!)


Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jun 2, 2017 6:02 AM CST
Newyorkrita said:What is sprouting there? Beans? Summer Squash? Cucumbers? Always so exciting when the seeds are coming up.

I use a lot of compost, sometimes have to delivered by the truckload. Anyway I then spread it on top of the soil and leave it. No tilling or turning in. Then for transplants such as tomatoes and peppers I simply lay on a thick layer of fall leaves or straw for mulch. That breaks down and enriches the soil also.

I don't use things like Miracle Grow. I use more natural fertilizers. One I love for building the soil as well as feeding plants is Neptune Liquid Seaweed Fish Blend.

Those are southern peas...zipper cream. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them this morning. (Actually a lot surprised!!! Hurray! ). I'm hoping for rain today...I thought we would surely get some yesterday but...no.

I've gotta get a composting program going, no doubt. Lack of time is somewhat of a factor with me but I can remember, too, when that fenced-in planted area was just...bahia+ grass. Smiling Gotta start scrounging stuff up...

Thanks for the tip on the Neptune fertilizer...I'll keep that it mind.
Ed
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jun 2, 2017 6:49 AM CST
Thanks for the poly pipe feedback. For now I'll have the "big rubber hose" stretched out for a while as I figure out and get a permanent water supply in place. I bought a 100' 5/8" hose the other day and have an old beat up one that I hope I can patch and plug for the rest of the distance. If patching and plugging doesn't work I wonder if my wife would miss the garden hose she waters her flowers with....??? Whistling

The picture of your mud reminds me of two things....the marl rock we have along some creeks down here in south Alabama...slick, limestoney mineral that you can (with effort) squeeze a pinch off the "rock" face. That would be more dense than what yours is. The other thing it reminds me of is the prairie mud north of us in Montgomery county...some real slick mud that makes for some *great* ponds...almost impervious to water. If you drive into it when you drive out of it (if you drive out of it) your vehicle sits a few inches taller from all the plaster on your tires. In my area, though, most of what we see is sand, red mud, or a combination. The mud in your pictures looks like what we see around a few limestone outcroppings.

That's a lot of work that you've done, but it seems to be working!! I think you and I have opposite problems...yours being the soil holds too much water and mine being rather sandy and letting go of the water maybe too easily. But, I think mine is easier to amend than yours...I'd be at a lost doing what you've done!!! You've got dedication!

Where I put the garden is on the very top of a terraced hill. Everything around me is rated as HEL by the soil conservation office..."Highly Erodible Land"...thus terraces everywhere...even down in the woods behind the house where it use to be row-crop land. Anyhow, the garden spot lays on the top of the hill between two terraced ridges. To the west towards the house it's rather flatland with *maybe* a slight slope towards the garden area. The north side terrace and land is slightly more elevated than the south, thus rain water will travel from north to south. The southeast corner of the garden would be the lowest part of the garden but it still is rather level even there. Beyond the SE corner is a low spot, probably 15-20 feet away where water will collect and stay for a day or so after heavy rains...but there is area for it to spill to to the east should we begin to get torrential rains. My thoughts were to build it here where it might actually capture and hold more of the rain water than it allows to flow away. It's kind of like heating and cooling...we build down here more concerned with cooling in the summer than heating in the winter. With gardening it seems we deal with drought moreso than flooding conditions...that's one thing that's got me wondering a little about raised beds...whether flat-ground gardening might hold the moisture better.... Confused Confused

Rick, I understand where you're coming from regarding trying things that other people consider odd or "silly", as you put it. I wonder how things would be if the Wright brothers hadn't persevered despite all the naysayers...??? ;)

I can see how adding organics to my sandy soil will help it in many ways with no major negatives to speak of. In regards to amending clay to make it more friable I'll have to leave that to you and other folks with clayey soils. I'd be at a total lost with that. Some property across the road from us just had plantation pines cut off of it. Where the logging trucks drove in and out and the equipment to load was located the ground is hardpacked red clay. In the loading/limbing areas where the equipment ran through mudholes and mixed bark/chips with the red clay it is indeed like brick there (without the bark it's like brick, too, though). I suspect the road will stay in good, hard-packed condition for a long time...until a tractor or heavy truck comes through when it's wet and ruts it up badly to create a low spot where water collects. But, the hard-packness of that has a lot to do with working it (driving over it) while wet and continuing to drive over it as it dries out. But, I believe if (lots and lots) more OM was added to the clay/bark area that eventually it would be come less adobe-like and more friable.

I do know, that down here to repair a muddy clay road that "gravel-sand" is used. This is different from "sand and gravel" in that there is more gravel than sand in it. I guess the coarseness of the sand and gravel doesn't allow the grit particles to "slide" against each other as well as the clay does so it holds in place better. Where a tire would sink down and rut up the clay it will usually ride over and be supported by the gravel-sand. I'm not sure how this applies to your situation but thought I'd throw it out there for "interpretation". Blinking

Btw, have you experimented with using gypsum? Maybe try some in one end of a bed?

Hopefully by end-of-day tomorrow I'll have the drip-irrigation setup....
Ed

"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jun 2, 2017 6:57 AM CST
Yesterday my wife and I were up in Montgomery, about 60 miles north of us. It rained cats and dogs while we were there. I kept checking www.beeweather.com to see if it was raining on the garden but it never showed rain. Then I got to wondering if maybe something had gone wrong with my rain gauge...I watched it throughout the afternoon...nothing changed. The radar was lit up like Christmas, but there were gaps here and there. Here's a screen capture of the radar the way it looked most of the afternoon. You can probably guess which area our garden is located in...the area that got 0" of rain, of course!<groan> I'll definitely be setting up the drip-irrigation tomorrow, but I'm still hoping for rain today or tonight. ;)
Thumb of 2017-06-02/Intheswamp/79d7eb
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Stewart
Pinehurst, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Plumerias Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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PlantMania
Jun 2, 2017 8:01 AM CST
Intheswamp said:Btw, have you experimented with using gypsum?

I agree
I have also heard that gypsum will help breakdown the clay. Not that I have to worry about clay, under about a foot and half of top layer soil I hit sand.

Ed, I felt your pain with not getting rain all the way til this last week. We would have storms ALL around us and our land was dry as a bone.

Irrigation: I am really liking the idea with the polypipes that Rick is using. Looks like I might be adding a new project before year end. Currently I am also using strung out hoses to get to my garden. It is about 125 feet from my water source.

Capturing 750 gallons of rainwater
Thumb of 2017-06-02/PlantMania/036337

3 tanks piped together down to a spigot
Thumb of 2017-06-02/PlantMania/b4c1aa

hose from tank into a transfer pump
Thumb of 2017-06-02/PlantMania/6cc8f7

The pump is 1/10 which is horrible. I need to get a .5 which will put out 50psi and that just so happens to be exactly what the poly pipe can handle.



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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 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.
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RickCorey
Jun 2, 2017 12:15 PM CST
Intheswamp said:
... I think you and I have opposite problems...yours being the soil holds too much water and mine being rather sandy and letting go of the water maybe too easily.
...
The southeast corner of the garden would be the lowest part of the garden but it still is rather level even there. Beyond the SE corner is a low spot, probably 15-20 feet away where water will collect and stay for a day or so after heavy rains... My thoughts were to build it here where it might actually capture and hold more of the rain water than it allows to flow away.
...
With gardening it seems we deal with drought moreso than flooding conditions...that's one thing that's got me wondering a little about raised beds...whether flat-ground gardening might hold the moisture better.... Confused Confused
...
I do know, that down here to repair a muddy clay road that "gravel-sand" ...

Btw, have you experimented with using gypsum? Maybe try some in one end of a bed?



I agree that a raised bed, or a raised spot on a hill, will tend to dry out much faster than an at-grade bed, or a low-lying bed. With my clay, a low-lying bed would just be anaerobic clay-mud-soup alternating with "bricks" depending on wetness.

(I find that my raised beds also dry out from evaporation around the edges and corners, not just from the deliberate drainage.)

Having zero concept of what it would be like to work with well-drained or sandy soil, I dunno nuthin'. But if conserving moisture was the goal, I would try a bed, at grade or slightly raised, in your low spot, but I would indulge my gopher ancestry by cutting a slit trench to drain that low spot just a little better.

Some people here have used hugelculture, or buried logs, to hold water, especially on slopes. T think "swales" (deep trenches plus berms?) are built along contour lines, and logs buried in the trenches and then buried so that the trench/berm alternation becomes low ripples that circle around a hill. The permaculture forum may have such threads.

I did buy a 50-pound bag of gypsum and was adding a little at a time for a few years. No noticeable change, but I didn't do a controlled experiment and I was amending random spots with "whatever" at the same time.

Since then I've been told that gypsum (calcium sulfate) only helps if you have saline clay or "sodic" soil. The charged ions (Ca++ and SO4- -) probably displace sodium ions and and chloride ions from the clay, leaving behind clay particles more eager to stick together. Allegedly that encourages clay particles to clump into micro-peds that can then encourage clay to become "grainy" rather than "homogeneous soup".

Allegedly.

I don't have saline clay, so now I have 30+ pounds of gypsum left over.

Have fun with your irrigation! It must be nice to have a big yard and soil that drains! Good luck finding enough compost ingredients every year to increase water retention.

(One good thing about hugelculture: as the wood layer subsides and clay or sand from above infiltrate into it, the resulting combination provides EXCELLENT, water-retaining soil deep down. As worms or deep tilling bring that up to the surface, you get the benefit of all that woods's organic matter, without having to build a huge compost heap of logs and wait for it to decay!)
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
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Intheswamp
Jun 2, 2017 1:48 PM CST
Plantmania, after further reading about gypsum it appears it isn't the cure-all we'd like it to be for clay soil. Matter of fact, it seems it might even be detrimental to the garden in some ways.

That's a nice and substantial irrigation system you've got going there!!!. Looks like you're using some of those "IBC" plastic containers. I'd love to find one close-by here at a fair price...seems folks around here that have them want a premium price for them. But, for now, I've got too many irons in the fire to stick another one in. Big Grin

Regarding getting a larger pump... Do you really need 50psi? The drip-irrigation setups usually only require 10-15psi (at least mine does...10psi). I can see where it would be better to have some headroom with the pressure but it seems 25-30psi at the pressure regulator would be plenty for drip and still have pressure for hose-end watering.

I'm envious of your setup. Green Grin!
"My old socks smell like cilantro..."
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling

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