John improves soil:: Central Texas Gardener

John improves soil::  Central Texas Gardener


Hello gardening friends welcome to Backyard
Basics. A lot of new gardeners are out there, thousands and thousands of people are gardening
for the first time and they are growing vegetables that’s for sure but a lot of them are putting
in the flowerbeds. And many of us have to deal with the heavy clay soil you know they
make bricks out of it and or clay pots out of it. It’s really hard to dig in and when
it’s wet you walk across it you come out a little bit taller on the other side. You know
that clay soil right there. But you can fix it and you can garden in that spot without
introducing some more soil. So today I’m going to show you a few of the
soil amendments that I like to use to help open up that soil, bring some life to it,
get it to drain well and you can grow anything out there at that point. Some of the things
that I like to use, this is a little bit of a pea gravel, right here, a little bit smaller
that a pea gravel, but look at that. That’s a beautiful little product it’s got a lot
of texture to it and that’s what you are going to need and you would use a generous amount
of it when you are in the garden out there. Not just a little bit but a least three inches
of this on top of the bed then you try to work it in about eight or ten inches but put
a generous amount in there. That’s very, very important so this is a very good little product
not impossible to find and I like it a lot. It really does open up the soil. Another one
that is available quite a bit is this decomposed granite sand. Now it’s pretty good. I think
I would maybe screen it a little bit but it has a lot of texture in there, it has a lot
of small stones. And once again about a three-inch layer on top of the garden bed and working
it in very, very nicely is important. And that means down to another eight or ten inches
so a generous amount of this and this brings minerals in too so it’s a real neat little
product. And it’s locally available; you know that’s important when we are looking for sustainable
gardens. We’re looking for products that come from our immediate area and so this granite
sand does. You’ve probably seen this on the paths here and there. It can compact down
so you want to put it very well mixed in to your soil. This is a way to fix that heavy
clay soil. Very nice product and a lot of people use this one because it is widely available.
Another thing you are going to need to add whenever you are opening the soil up is some
good compost. This is a dairy compost right here, the dairy compost seems to be the one
that lasts the longest in the soil. All of the proteins have been removed by the cattle
and so it doesn’t break down so easily anymore. I mean cows, and so this is a good little
product. It will have some nutrients in, some life in it; we need that life in the soil.
That’s very, very important thing, that’s one of the goals in repairing that heavy clay
soil is to bring a lot of live to it because the microorganisms that are in there will
secrete a glue like substance. And they live in the air, they really need
some important air in there, they are not anaerobic organisms and so you really need
to open it up. And that glue like substance that they excrete binds the particles of clay
together into a really nice tilth. So this an important addition to this whole thing.
This right here is expanded shale, Texas A&M did a lot of research and the Arboretum up
in Dallas; there are a lot of folks using this right here. It’s a Texas product, it’s
shale, it’s a little over sixty-five million years old, it’s been around here a long time
and does not break down. This is the stuff that’s been sitting around
here for the past sixty-five million, at the end of the dinosaur age. This stuff was deposited
in the soil when Texas was a huge lake. And so this is expanded shale and so this works
very, very well and stays there forever. It’s not going to go anywhere. The next million
years that you are gardening in that spot it’s going to drain very, very well. This
is known as expanded shale and it’s really porous. It really is nice and open. So one
of the other characteristics of this you can use it in a sandy soil. So in a heavy clay
soil it will provide the drainage and in a sandy soil it will hold moisture. It’s very,
very porous. I understand it’s nearly thirty-eight percent of the weight of each stone here in
moisture. Really nice way to do it, expanded shale this is probably except for the compost
these two things would be my best choices. Especially in some of those sandy soils. It’s
important to feed this kind of a soil. Bringing that life around there means everything. There
are many soil activators on the market and that’s what soil activators do. They feed
the micro organisms that are in the soil and that’ll open it up and you’ll have a beautiful
garden after you do this. For Backyard Basics I’m John Dromgoole, I’ll see you next time.

7 thoughts on “John improves soil:: Central Texas Gardener

  1. this is great! i live in central texas and started my first gardens this year (one veggie and one flower) and i just wish i found this video when i started, instead of planting things that won't grow… oh well, you live, you learn, you do it differently next year.

  2. Im in new jersey and bought my first house and found that i have a pond/lake in my backyard after it rains I HATE it. mosquitos eat up my children and I and I have to build a moat to get to my shed at times. thanks for the advice.

  3. I liked everything until you got to the "soil activators". That's just garden quackery. But thanks for (most) of the post.

  4. clay is ideal to work in and with, and to grow plants in. she's your best and most stable friend, but she clings at times and rebuffs, but always returns to friendly, days after a good rain.

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