Flower bed soil recipe.

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by FunGarden, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. FunGarden

    FunGarden Member

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    Hi,
    I have yellow/brown clay soil in my backyard (new subdivision). What is a good proportion to mix existing clay with black soil, sand, peat moss and compost for a flower bed? Is there anything else I should add?
    Thank you.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Depends on the texture of existing soil. Probably better to plant in a berm or raised bed of good topsoil dumped onto the existing soil anyway, if you are sure your existing soil is unsuitable for planting.
     
  3. FunGarden

    FunGarden Member

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    The soil is mostly dark colored clay with yellow clay chunks in it. Yellow is pretty hard to break up and when moistened – very plastic.
    I’m thinking of raised flower bed. I don’t want just to replace existing soil with top soil, but rather add other materials to improve drainage and air circulation for the plants.
    What are the proportions of substances in a good fertile soil?
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    A little clay goes a long way, it would be alot easier and probably more successful to place topsoil on top of the existing soil if you want a coarser texture. There is also the problem of an amended soil returning to its original condition over time, as the amendments decompose. If the mineral component has a good proportion of sand and silt, this is less of a problem than if it is a clay soil, that will eventually reconsolidate if not reworking periodically.
     
  5. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Depending on who you believe and what you are planting, "ideal" soil proportions (clay/sand/humus) range around 33:33:33 to 20:50:30 to "over 10% clay is heavy soil".
    I think Ron may be alluding to the fact that your clay has much more ability to "amend" your amendments than visa versa.
    On the other hand, if you're not trying to amend the whole farm, a truckload of decent, humusy (is that a word?) topsoil will go a long way in a garden. Maybe I should say "on" a garden, as soil delivery is only the first (and easiest) step. Then you have to dig it in.
    Let your clay dry enough that it will not just form a heavy paste when you till it, but not so dry that it won't let you in. Till, then add 2-3" of topsoil, and till that in, and repeat. This way you will end up with a gradual transition from un-disturbed soil at the bottom to the most heavily amended layer on top.
    If you are adding less than truckload quantities, like bags of peat and sand and compost, then try to estimate the 33:33:33 ratio, and take comfort in knowing that you have made some progress, and there's always next year.
    Ralph
     
  6. FunGarden

    FunGarden Member

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    Thank you. I think 33:33:33 formula will work well.
     
  7. MIS

    MIS Member

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    I'm new to soil prepeartion:
    What kind of Sand is recomended. The regular Play Sand found in Home Depot type places or something else.

    Any reomndation how to ensure 33:33:33,because the compactness and volume of Peat differes so much wth Sand and Compost.

    Thanks
     
  8. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    I use "fluffed up" peat in my formulations, and yes HD Playsand is OK. Use a 5 gallon pail and fill one pail with each component. Adjust the total amount of each batch so it will fit in your cement mixer (the nursery's best friend for soil mixing). My rooting mix for instance is 5 gal peat + 5 gal perlite + 6 litres of water. That's for grapes; other plants may do better with a different recipe.
    For larger amounts it's a lot like making bread where you check the texture from time to time and add whatever you think it needs at that stage.
    Ralph
     

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