Type of soil

Discussion in 'Gardening and Agriculture' started by guyfour, Oct 16, 2008.

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  1. guyfour

    guyfour Guest

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    What's the best all-around type of soil you can purchase? There seem to be too many options when I go to the store.
     
  2. gds

    gds Well-Known Member

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    What are you doing with the soil? Is it back fill for a foundation, indoor maryjane propagation, or just your average everyday backyard garden??

    "What's the best all-around type of soil you can purchase?" You are purchasing soil?:eek:

    Here's the deal, go dig up whatever you have, add your compost to it along with some cow, horse, or chicken manure. Or whatever kind of manure you can get from free range organic critters.

    If you are paying cash dollars for dirt, which grows the food we need, you are not embedded into the real system that makes things happen.

    Refocus grasshopper! Paying for dirt.:confused:
     

  3. JeepHammer

    JeepHammer Well-Known Member

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    You weren't very specific what you wanted the soil for,
    Yards and grass, flower beds, garden, potted plants, ect.
    I'm going to 'Assume' garden, so we will go for there....
    THEN,
    It Depends where you live...
    Someplace it freezes deep?
    Someplace it never freezes?
    Someplace there is good drainage with lots of top soil?,
    Someplace there is poor drainage with peat for 'Top Soil'?,
    Someplace there is little water and fast drainage and the top soil is alkaline and you have to deal with a calachie bed underneath...?
    All of this matters!

    And don't pay attention to the guys that tell you soil doesn't matter! Soil selection and care is a dying art that most people don't understand, so they can't appreciate.
    It's very hard to come up with 'Compost' if you can't grow anything to make the plant matter for the compost!

    Lawn clippings are OK, but not real good.
    Leaves in the fall make great compost, but if you live in an area that doesn't have a lot of deciduous trees, or has evergreens or palm trees, you are screwed there!

    Composting just household waste is not worth the trouble to separate out the meat/fat from the plant matter that makes the best compost...

    Anyway, AFTER you get a garden going with some reasonable soil, then you can start composting for real...
    Any weed you cut down (before it makes seeds!),
    Shredded news papeers (nothing shiny, just news print),
    About any yard waste that DOES NOT have seeds in it,
    Any household waste that doesn't have animal matter in it,
    (no dog or cat waste, you can bury that in the garden, but don't put meat eating animal waste in the compost pile)
    Rabbit, gerbil, guinea pig, ect. waste is GREAT stuff.
    Buy a couple of different boxes of worms at the bait sore, especially the smaller 'Red Wigglers' and put them under the compost stack, then wet it well...
    The best fertilizer you can buy is 'Worm Castings'... And I shouldn't have to tell you what end of the worm thats from...!

    Turn your compost pile over once a month or so and water it good each time you turn it...
    This is FREE FERTILIZER, and with a high worm content, it's the best natural fertilizer you can get!

    Chicken, duck, turkey waste can all be used, but it should be dried first before introducing to the compost pile,
    Or better yet, just till into the garden at the beginning of the year...
    If you put meat eaters' waste on the garden after your plants come up, you are introducing raw sewage directly to your food source!
    BAD IDEA!
    ----------------------

    Generic 'Topsoil' is usually a mix of clay, sand, 'Loam', and is pretty good for general growing, but you will need to fertilize it for specific plants.
    (and most people can't tell you the difference between peat, loam, clay and alkaloid loaded calachie on sight or by taste)

    Top soil is water permeable 'Fill'...
    The higher the clay content, the less water permeable it will be.
    The higher the sand content, the faster water will drain.

    So, start with some course 'Construction' sand or pea gravel, so it will drain easily, then put an average of about 6" to 1' of 'top Soil Mix' over it...
    The mix is so it will retain Some water, but not remain saturated or drain water very quickly.

    'Bedding' soil is usually rich compost, with high moisture retaining capabilities and it's for starting new plants in.
    Green houses, hot boxes and starter beds is where you want to use this.

    'Potting' soil is for a very well drained pot, and it's also full of compost, peat (partly decayed plant matter) and it's usually got additives to retain some water since potted plants are usually very well drained.

    'Desert', Succulent (a class of plants), or 'Cactus' mixes are usually VERY sandy and they are nutrient poor.
    The are intended for fast drainage when they get wet, and they are intended for plants that grow in very poor soil conditions.

    'Drainage Additives' are usually nothing more than sand or ground rock, but that doesn't mean you can just add any old sand to promote drainage!

    Make sure the sand is 'Washed' before you use it.
    Some sands are high in alkaloids and salts, but they are easy to disburse since they are VERY water soluble.

    Succulents like alkaloids and salts, so do some pepper plants and some flowers, so it wouldn't be a problem for them,
    But something like Tomatoes or Roses, which are acid loving plants, and that would make them unhappy!

    If you are in doubt, lay down some 'Washed' construction sand (Very Rough) for drainage, You can even mix in some pea gravel or small stones, but try and stay away from lime stone, it's a base and will make your acidic fertilizers ineffective rather quickly!.

    Buy up the cheapest 'Top Soil' you can get,
    then mix in some of the 'Bedding Mix' to richen it up.

    Add Deeper top soil with richer mixtures for the areas you are going to grow leaf lettuce, carrots, potatoes, anything that will produce all year or grow underground.

    Corn has shallow roots, and is VERY tolerant of the ground it grows in (witness how many places they can grow corn!).

    Keep a few rows separation between the acid lovers, Tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, rurbarb, potatoes, corn, ect,
    AND,
    The pH neutral lovers,
    And on the other side of the garden, the alkaloid lovers, Asparagus, Beans, ect. ...

    One end for deep vegetables with deep top soil for potatoes, carrots, ect.
    and one end with shallow, but very rich soil for bedding plants, starter plants, hot box frames and things like leaf lettuce.

    Here are some good references for your soil requirements for lots of different plants...
    http://homeharvest.com/plantphpreference.htm
    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/quickref/soil/pHplants.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008