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So now that we have this forum...

Posted by AlbertaR z6 LINY (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 14, 04 at 10:50

What is the soil like in your area? I know that most of the north shore of Long Island is rocky and has clay soil, the south has mostly sand. How do you build up your soil to attain the loam that everyone raves about? For me its adding compost, manure and more compost.
Alberta


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: So now that we have this forum...

I have both clay AND sand. Have no idea why. All I know is that the soil is heavy, yet seems to drain pretty well. An odd combo. Anyways, I didn't like the soil. I had the landscaper dig out a trench about 18"-24" deep and refill with topsoil and compost. I think I made an error in omitting peat since this new soil seems quite heavy too, maybe too many organics. Basically, I have no idea whether my soil is good or not, and its making me quite nervous since I just planted 60 roses in it.

Angie


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RE: So now that we have this forum...

  • Posted by Trudi_d 7, Long Island (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 14, 04 at 12:02

Clay and sand...that's the same thing here. I encounter clay patches throught the yard. All in all my soil drainage is excellent so the clay has never been an issue.

Alberta, see you in a little while.

T


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RE: So now that we have this forum...

Mostly sand. I'm on an island off the southern coast of LI that's only 10 miles East to West and less than one mile North to South. I don't do much to amend the sand because I don't plant much in the ground. The only things in the ground right now are spring bulbs and sunflowers. And they both seem to do fine without adding anything more than some fall leaves and bone meal.


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I am on the same island as Greenfreak..:-) Sand, sand, sand, and more sand....and I have the pleasure of rocks and plastic to go with sand...Each year I amend a little more...in fact, just yesterday my husband created a new hosta bed for me...adding compost, topsoil and peat to the sand, sand, sand......


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I have a court yard garden and a concret planter 20'x 2.5'x 8" deep. The previous owner hated gardening and put down 3 to 4 inches of mulch for 17 years to stop all growth. What great soil he created. It is full of earthworms and everything grows. For the last 5 years I have feeded the soil 2 inchs of half digested compost as a mulch and watered in neptunes harvest.
When I dig down deep enough there is nothing but builders sand which was probably fill. Don't have a clue what the original soil was.


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  • Posted by fable Z7 LI,NY (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 15, 04 at 8:10

I'm in Smithtown north shore of LI and I have sand. In fact the area I am in was once mined for the sand. I am also in an area with lots of horses so I have compost for the asking! You can water for long amounts of time and five minutes later it is dry. I do a lot of mulching, but after working at my daughters which is all clay I will take the sand and amend it! Lynne


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Sand, sand, and more sand on Cape Cod. So happy to see this forum though. Welcome to everyone and remember if you're lucky enough to be at the beach, you're lucky enough...


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Sand everywhere - a bit of clay and more sand!!! UGH!!! Lots of admending! Weeds that love to creep in!


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I have Clay and rock in Commack with a lot of hardpan :-(


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We have the clay/sand mixture on LBI in Jersey. I amend with top soil, compost, peat moss and anything else I can come up with (manure). Then some plants just go in the sand/clay mixture and they do fine like scotch broom and russian sage.


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The ocean is across the road from us. Our home is on what used to be a wooded lot, mostly deciduous trees that had grown up in what had been pastureland. There were some pretty good sized white pines, too, that were milled and now make up the tirmwork inside our home.

The soil is predicably, very dark, rich, high in organic content, but LOADED with rocks, roots, etc.. It drains well but is very moisture retentive. When I began gardening, I simply double dug all the beds, and SIFTED the soil, amending it with more compost and loam, maybe some peat to preserve the initial character of it. I never gave what I was doing a second thought! it seemed the most practical way to guaratee results. Anyway, it worked, aside from a layer of compost in the fall and a sprinkling of organic fertililzer in the spring I don't have to do anything for the beds to get stuff to grow. And, it makes digging/dividing/rearranging plants pretty easy.

The husband gardens organically in his raised bed vegetable garden and he was the driving force behind installing irrigation. All but 3 beds have it and while we use it very sparingly it HAS saved the turf on the terrace and Sanitary Ridge in times of drought. In droughty times we will run it for an hour/two every week in the beds; that, coupled with good soil and a layer of mulch keeps perennials looking good without resorting to too many "heroics".

It follows that I'm able to grow plants that prefer rich, moist soil, and woodland conditions. I really have to carefully site things like Sedums, Bearded Iris, Caryopteris, Buddleias, anything like likes it lean and sharply drained.


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Mine's a lot like Chelones. I'm about 1000 yards from the sound, but still have deciduous trees and dark soil. This is my first summer at this house. I have yet to have the soil tested, but it's teaming with both rocks and earthworms, so I'm thinking it's in good ph shape. I'm thinking there's a little clay to it since I have a high percentage of broadleaf weeds indicating compacted soil. Me and the weedhound are working on those.


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RE: Soil Sifting

Hi Chelone,

I was wondering how you went about sifting the soil for your garden beds. I have a new home in CT and will be starting from scratch preparing garden beds. CT actually seems to grow rocks in their soil. I have tried manual sifting methods with a screen over a wheelbarrow. It works well enough, but it is very labor and time intensive.

Did you have a mechanized way of sifting soil?

Thanks for your reply.


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I laid out the beds and then began with a PLAN. I used elbow grease, determination, and consumed a lot of water. We didn't have 2 dimes to rub together when we moved in here and it's amazing what the grim reality of limited finances can do for your levels of determination and acceptance, lol.

We fashioned a screen from 2x4s, and stapled 1/2" mesh hardware cloth over it. It had two adjustable legs that permitted it to stand independently and allowed me to set the tilt. I'd put down a blue tarp, park the wheel barrow behind it and start shovelling. I pulled the largest rocks/roots and set them aside, I'd hand pick the ones that fit in my hand easily and put those in a bucket. The smaller ones where allowed to roll off the mesh and form a pile and were relocated when there was a pile large enough to move. Definitely a "low tech." operation. Here's the "best" part... we actually REUSED the damn rocks to fill in low places on the footpaths that cross our property (a massive 2 3/4 acres). We called it, "mama's home made aggregate". So, NO, I had no ingenius method... but I can tell you this; I was never overweight, I slept very well at night, and it was the perfect thing to do while reconciling the deaths of some very special people who died one right after the other.

Double digging beds is a lot of work and not for the faint of heart. But it yields dividends the likes of which you can only imagine. Your new plants will take right off, watering will be minimized because the water can really soak in deeply and be held by the soil. And it makes later division/propagation a relative breeze. My advice to you would be to start with one bed and work through it, patiently! it takes a lot of time, not a one day project (at least if you want to walk the next day, lol). You will have to supplement the sifted mix with loam, compost, peat to make up for the volume you remove in the form of rocks. And you may notice that the level of the beds will settle over the winter and you'll have to "top them off" in the spring. Double digging is an excellent activity for the fall, as cold weather and snow tend to naturally compact the newly turned soil. My husband always joked that I was digging graves (we never did find Jimmy Hoffa) as the beds are all between 18-30" deep. I have a new project ahead of me and have forgotten just how the actual labor can be... but a little bit at time makes it manageable.


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Rich dirt, lots of rocks, glass and odd metal bits. Oh, did I mention ROCKS!!! I'm making a nice rock garden where the ledge sticks out in the back yard. Course that is where the best views of the bay are so I'm making it into a nice garden, just have to figure out what will live up there on the rocks.

Leasa


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My yard used to a brickyard, and it's still all clay. A potter at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth told me that iron in the clay makes red brick once it's fired. But it's gray and dries as hard as concrete if turned up. I've been adding peat, compost, manure and seaweed. Decided to go with the flow and plant iris, asters and things that go for wet clay. Lots of blueberries were already here!


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The soil on our property has surprised us. Heavy clay in one area and 15' away it's almost all sand/rocks. The rocks seems to be mostly in the sandy areas. My husband has dug up some quite large ones which we're collecting for a future rock garden. We're amending heavily w/50-50 leaf mold/manure. I'm already asking neighbors, friends, etc. if I can have their leaves this fall. We're going to need tons of compost. Since we just purchased the property late last summer, we're still in the process of learning what areas of the garden have which kind of soil. Seems every new area brings up something a little different. I'm loving the expereince though. I just feel so very blessed to be living here.


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Manure, Manure and Manure. Oh yes, throw in some shredded leaf mulch.

Huntington, LI here and I don't bag up any of my leaves for the town. I shred them and use them as a mulch in the garden. The worms love them! I also top dress my beds with horse manure and add composted manure to any hole I dig.

Melanie


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East bay RI was a glacial moraine and its old rounded rocks seem to be graded according to altitude, the smallest being on the top and the huge ones deep. This area was (still is, mostly) farms, and all those cattle processing grass left a rich legacy. You have to walk down the street to the beach before you get sand. Between the beach and the house lot is a swampy area around the salt pond where Joe Pye weed, cattails, marsh mallows and sedge grow. I looked it up in a geology guidebook and the soil there is named "Adrian Muck"!


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  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 21, 04 at 16:16

Fine clay and lots of New England rock, courtesy of the retreating Pleistocene glaciers. lol
Some places have glacial till - sand and gravel outwash. There is a sand and gravel quarry only three miles from me. But in my garden it's mucky clay and chunks of rock with every shovelful.


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Like most of you it seems I have mostly sand, an occasional patch of clay and lots of rocks. We already had a stone wall on two sides of the property (we have a corner lot) and with every bed I dig the wall gets higher. I compost faithfully, but have still had to buy humus and peat and the soil is still a little too sandy!


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