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Is dirt, dirt?

Posted by elginagent ( on
Tue, Jul 25, 06 at 17:54

Howdy y'all,
(Jes tryin' ta fit in)

We're moving from the Chicago area to Bull Shoals.
I'm a born and bred Chicago city boy making his way into a totally different realm. So, please excuse this if it is a dumb question.

All we have here is black dirt. Down there is all reddish dirt.
Is dirt, dirt?
What makes the dirt there red?
Is there a difference in veggies grown in red as opposed to black?
Thanks for your patience with this city dude.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is dirt, dirt?

No, "dirt" is not "dirt" to a gardener.

First of all, "dirt" is what gets into your fingernails. Soil is what plants grow in. Color results from what the soil is comprised of which includes what is left of eroded rock, organic matter from the surrounding area, and all the bacteria and micro-organisms that inhabit that space. I'm not positive about Bull Shoals but the Springfield area is mostly clay soil. Clay soil is good but it tends to lack drainage and there are plenty of ways to do this.

Don't guess at what comprises your soil. You actually save time and money by only adding what you need.

Check with your state's Extension Service. They'll tell you what you need to do to get it tested. It's usually only $6.00 -$12.00 (I paid $9 or $11 a few years ago in Missouri) which is what home kits cost but don't tell you nearly as much as a lab can tell you. Then you won't be guessing as to what state your soil is in or wasting money on amendments you don't need. They'll tell you exactly how much of what elements you need to add to your soil per square foot (if any).

Stick with compost and natural sources of organic matter instead of fertilizers which can render your soil sterile in the long run. If you have more soil questions, browse the Soil Compost Mulch Forum.

RE: Is dirt, dirt?

What Violet said! Oh yeah!


RE: Is dirt, dirt?

  • Posted by fuzzy 6b northern AR (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 17, 06 at 23:37

Ditto on Rick dittoing on Violet.

The red in the soil is from high clay content. This is high in minerals and good plant nutrients but low in moisture retension. The Extension agent idea is a good one, as is checking out sheet composting/lasagna gardening if you're wanting to establish new beds. Google Pat Lanza for the basic idea, then buy books from Ruth Stout if you're interested in learning more. (Pat Lanza's books are pretty fluffy and centered on her New York climate-- not too helpful down here.)

Welcome to the Ozarks!


RE: Is dirt, dirt?

Welcome to the Ozarks. Get used to gardening with rocks.........we all do it.

I can attest to the lasagna method. I did several beds this year without tilling and am very impressed with the method.

I have been a devotee of Ruth Stout since the '70's and have her No Work book.

Good luck and follow Violet's advice about using our wonderful Extension services to the fullest.

RE: Is dirt, dirt?

Thanks for all of the info on "Is dirt dirt" I too am a transplant, from the New England area, and am trying very hard to learn how to garden here. I am trying the lasagna method for the first time this fall. Will see how well it works. Am also adding sand to my "soil" clay, seems to help with draining. Will check back often for more info.

RE: Is dirt, dirt?

How did it go kjm-tebbetts-mo?

RE: Is dirt, dirt?

Hay!!! Welcome Gary and kjm!
violet was right about everything she said. I read one of your other posts Gary on the landscape forum. You are going to have a lot of fun getting a soil sample From solid rock.LOL
You are propabably going to have to go with raised beds, filling them in with sand,topsoil,maybe an organic fertilizer like cow manure or chicken litter. Again talk to your county agent.

I went with mostly raised beds and its not that hard to do if you're not in a big hurry.I used rocks for the sides of the beds. (we got lots of those)

Gary, when you get settled in you'll have to tell us about Chicago. I 've always wanted to go up there and to see one of the great lakes too.

kjm, what part of New England were you? We lived in MASS for several years and went up into Vermont,New Hampshire,and Maine.Beautiful country and beautiful mountains and old houses.

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