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Author Topic: Bad soil
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  Rita
  Heflin
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Bad soil    (Posted Wed, Jan 23 '13 at 05:18 UTC)

We bought a home with 4 acres of land and I wanted to use 2 acres to grow strawberries, blackberries, apples, pears, peaches and figs for my own home canning, but the soil is nothing but red clay, is there anyway I can build up the soil without spending a small fortune? Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Rita Cofield
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: Bad soil    (Posted Wed, Jan 23 '13 at 06:39 UTC)

You are going to have to grow your own fertility. Investigate which crops grow well in your area - ask local farmers. While you are at it, ask about free biomass - sawdust, old hay, grass clippings, etc.

If you want to start with a series of raised beds, each 4x8 bed will cost about $25 per bed for materials and another $25 for soil. This comes out to around $1.50 a square foot. Here is a list of those crops that generated a value greater than $1.50/sq ft for me last year: Celeriac, Basil, Pole bean towers, Pumpkins, Carnival squash, Salsify, Strawberries, Garlic. Other farmers could likely give you more examples.

You could always do raised beds without the lumber too. Then the crops that pay for themselves the first year increases to over 20. In other words, buying soil is cheap. Right now you can take advantage of cheap gasoline prices for delivery IF you have enough capital upfront. I prefer to make my own soil and amend what I already have, but in your situation, you may just want to bite the bullet for a couple of years.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 That guy
 Marengo, WI
Re: Bad soil    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '13 at 08:33 UTC)

Might want to try hay bale gardening, as the hay rots you will improve your soil. Course with the drought that can get pricey. Green manures of course. I had some nasty housing development ground once. In 2 years I had it in pretty good shape just from raking all leaves onto the garden each fall and leaving them rot all winter. I would concentrate on 1/2 acre and rotate to a new 1/2 each year. plant a green manure on 1/2 acre, then a crop with a lot of mulch, then a Nitrogen crop, then a heavy feeding crop. You might want to make one of those years a crop of mulching material, say shorgum (sp) sudan grass. Or get some chickens on a 1/2 acre or pigs. Just get good fencing. Going to take awhile, caution with pigs, they can pack the ground hard if no bedding to work in.

 Rita
 Heflin
Re: Bad soil    (Posted Sun, Mar 3 '13 at 08:53 UTC)

Thank you all for your suggestions,

Rita Cofield
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