compaction problem

kcmo_don(zone 6 Kansas)March 13, 2006

I am in Kansas city, MO a VERY clay based zone 5, and I have been in my home for about 2 years. I have been FEVERISHLY amending my soil and in places that I have focused it is an earthworm Mecca with a light fluffy texture, and sweet aroma! J

I have since built one LONG raised bed for 20 different varieties of heirloom tomato.

Here is my "issue" Â. Last fall after laying down several sheets of wet newspaper, I filled these beds with shredded leaves, old horse manure, finished compost, grass clippings, and some good topsoil. I was diligent about turning the material in these beds about every 7-10 days all winter (very mild winter). I suddenly have a TON of earthworms (and worm egg cases), and cannot find any real sign of the individual ingredients that filled the beds. As I turned the beds I dug approx. 12 inches into the ground below in order to gain more room for roots. I think by incorporating this clay soil into the raised bed material I have made it far to dense and compaction prone. This mix can REALLY hold the water!!! And it is pretty "heavy" when wet. I havenÂt had a soil sample done and in the name of my budget I probably wonÂt.

Do you all think that adding a LOT of perlite will fix this issue?

Do you think it will be a problem?

The beds are 12" high (plus 12" below) and 18" wide, by very long! J Imagine a 40 foot trough.

Any input would be GREATLY appreciated as the Toms will be going in about 4 weeks from now!!

Thanks a ton


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as long as you arent walking on it compaction shouldnt be that much of an issue. The worms with aerate the soil.

Just keep adding organic matter to replace that which has decomposed. At this late in the game I would just add compost and in the fall add things like leaves.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 6:40PM
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I'd slip the perlite and keep adding organic, as Don said. You should be ok.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 7:25PM
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garasaki(z5 IA)

Your soil can't possibly be worse off now then it was when you started. Like the first reply said, compaction shouldn't be tooooo much of an issue if you aren't walking on it.

I have similar soil at my house. And I've done a fair bit of research on amending clay soil.

One thing I see again and again is the fact it takes YEARS for the soil to really turn into something that's close to ideal. Results are NOT overnight. So just keep at it, your definately better off with what you have, and in a few years you'll get the soil you truely desire! (how corny does that sound?)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 3:24PM
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