Amending sandy soil on new construction site (and adding worms)

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by Rick Vandenberg, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Rick Vandenberg

    Rick Vandenberg Member

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    Hi all - we've recently purchased a house in Maple Ridge. The builders levelled out the back yard by dumping what looks to be a large amount of sand. There is clay (in chunks) below the surface, but there appears to be little or no organic matter. I've been tilling in compost from a local landscaping firm in an attempt to improve the soil before the lawn & garden are done.

    My questions are: how much compost is enough? I'm thinking that 6" of compost (before tilling) would be pretty good, but I'm making a very uneducated guess.

    Also, because of all the construction work, and because the neighbouring houses have un-amended soil, I don't see an easy path for earthworms to get into my soil. Does anyone have any suggestions or comments about adding worms? I'm tempted to go the local bait shop to buy an assortment and let them loose in the garden. Do you think that have an excess of sand in the soil would hurt their chances of survival?

    Many thanks.

    Rick
     
  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    In my experience, the combination of sand and compost (or leaf mould) is a good one for a variety of plants, particularly in the short term. The more compost you add, the better will be the moisture retention and fertility of the medium (it isn't really soil). An important point to remember, however, is that organic matter will eventually break down and ultimately disappear, so it must be replaced. And, if the organic matter that you incorporate is unevenly incorporated or spread, you will end up with serious bumps and hollows.

    Homeowners generally notice the problems of organic matter subsidence (shrinkage) a few years after they move into a new development. Actively growing turf, where the clippings are not removed, will be less affected than turf where the clippings are removed, but both situations will be affected. Unless thickly mulched, tree plantings are often even more obviously affected, as surface roots will become exposed as they organic matter oxidizes and the sand blows away

    Don't worry about worms. They will find you as long as you've incorporated good compost and provide irrigation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2004
  3. Rick Vandenberg

    Rick Vandenberg Member

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    Thanks for the information Douglas. I've been fairly careful to make sure the application of compost has been even, but I'll be monitoring it closely over the next few years.

    And thanks for pointing out that what I'm making really isn't soil. I had an idea stuck in my mind that what I'd eventually get would be 'soil' (after much time & decomposition), but your comment was a good reality check for me.

    Rick
     
  4. boflaade

    boflaade Member

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    Make sure the sand is not "sharp Sand" Sand that hasn't been naturaly smoothed by water. Sharp sand kills worms.
     

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