soil question

thomis(7)June 5, 2013

I've got chickens. A couple years ago I got a cubic yard of sand to line the chicken run with. It works great to keep down the odor. But after two years its about reached its carrying capacity and I need to clean it out and replace with fresh sand. Its the large size sand, by the way, I think they call it "construction sand". Anyways, my question is can I mix this sand in with my garden soil and spread it around my fruit trees? I am aware that chicken manure can burn but this stuff has been sitting long enough that the danger of the burn effect is past. I'm just not sure about the sand being mixed in with a clay-loam soil. Any ideas?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

It won't be any issue at all. There can't possibly be enough to hurt anything even if it was "bad". And I don't think it will have any negative effect, at least not from the sand issue.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:23PM
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alan haigh

The sand won't hurt the soil and whether you should do it depends on the volume you intend to incorporate. CS is very high in P and N and although the N is stable and shouldn't burn you may not want to create the vigor for some plants it might inspire. Also P can tie up other nutrients when applied at excessive rates.

I would use it like compost and apply it as a top dressing. Coarse soil on top of fine is the way plants like it- not that the sand would be a problem incorporated. In some really sticky clay soils they say adding sand can create concrete, but I've never managed to do this.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 1:16PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

I have made concrete with sand and sticky clay because that's what we naturally have. If you have it, make sure you mix in quite a bit of organic material with it.
John S
PDX OR

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 12:31AM
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insteng

We used to use composted turkey manure on our fruit trees and garden at my parents house. It doesn't burn them as long as it is not fresh but it will make them grow like crazy. The trees took off and doubled in size compared to the ones without it. We also had tomatoes that werre over 8' tall.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:19AM
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alan haigh

That's the thing- you want lots of vigor while trees are establishing but you need to be able to dial it down when they've filled their space. Too much organic matter is hard to dial back. Gardeners aren't usually programmed to think about reducing vigor.

To elaborate on my point, commercial growers often spray urea on fruit trees in early spring so it only goes to spur leaves that feed the fruit. Organic based fertilizers applied to the ground give you no control over what part of the tree you are feeding or when- as long as soil is warm OM releases N. Moderate vigor is key to best quality fruit and regular cropping. Also to keeping pruning needs down.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:44AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Brambles could benefit a lot from this. I have to buy my manure for them.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 1:16PM
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thomis(7)

Thanks for the info, I will use it.
My local ag agent also told me adding the sand to clay, even the small amount of clay I have, can make concrete. But she is also the one that told me not to prune my apple trees the first few years so...obviously her advice should be taken with a grain of salt..

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 1:45PM
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alan haigh

If you mix enough sand with clay the soil will cease to be a clay. The advice is based on a preconceived notion that you would not add enough sand. If you mix it 50-50 by volume only working it in as deep as this is possible with the amount of sand you use, I don't think you will do anything but improve your soil.

I have successfully done this with soil so grey and clay it could have been used to make pottery- it was excavated from deep into the earth and trucked in.

I used a mixture of 1 part each, clay, sand and compost. Placed this over the pure clay in raised beds when putting an orchard in for someone about 8 years ago and now it is one of the most productive orchards I manage. The pure clay below helps deinvigorate the fruit trees- it is tough for roots to penetrate.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 2:02PM
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