jim&rene
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I messed up this year

Hi All, last year we started another garden in our yard, 20x20. I prepared the soil by turning over the sod several times and adding compost/peat/and a few tons of ???top soil from a local supply. The garden did OK, and just OK. In the fall, I added more compost, tilled a few more times, then our winter came, and a very wet spring. My other garden tilled perfectly almost to powder, but the newer one just clumped up,( quarter sized chunks), I have tilled several times with no success. We decided to plant but the corn is struggling but the peas are thriving. What can I do to fix this mess. We have never had this problem in 30+ years. I am afraid the "top soil" was clay :(

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applestar
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Re: I messed up this year

It's really not fair to ask gardening questions without stating your location or else give detailed climate info -- day/night temp, sunrise sunset, etc.

My immediate thought was since peas are thriving, it's still too cold for the corn. -- my corn is doing great and approaching knee high already, and peas in semi shade are doing well -- even ones in containers since I have been diligent about watering them, but the ones in full sun locations are fading fast without even producing a single pod.
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feldon30
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Re: I messed up this year

There is no legal definition of "top soil". It can be anything. The scrapings off a vacant lot. Tired, spent soil off an abandoned farm. It's mystery soil. I personally found a soil yard that was willing to speak candidly with me about the makeup of their soil mixes. I ended up with a garden mix with some compost added in, and then of course I add my own compost. I also asked where the compost is sourced from. It does cost more, but I didn't want to have to worry.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: I messed up this year

Soil clumps up like that if it is tilled when too wet. It may be that your new soil is more clay-ey than the old, so held more moisture, or the sun exposure could be different so it just didn't dry out as fast. So the old bed was ready to till and the new one wasn't. Once it has clumped up like that, it is very very difficult to un-clump. I think really nothing much you can do this season to change that. The good news is at the end of the season you can cover it with a good layer of mulch, like autumn leaves. Next spring wait until the soil is definitely dry enough (if you pick up a handful of it, you can squeeze it in to a ball, but the ball readily falls apart again when touched) and till the leaves in and it should be fine.
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jim&rene
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Re: I messed up this year

Thanks for the input, I live in western pa zone 6? I didn't think the soil was too wet, just wasn't sure if clumps was from the soil or the wetness. So like you said, I will se how things go this year, add and till in more leaves/compost this fall, and go at it again next year. I do have a 30x30 ft basketball court just above this garden, so Im figuring it is receiving a lot of rain run off, causing the soil to be more wet. I will post pics as soon as I figure out how to do that. 60 now and not too computer savvy.

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applestar
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Re: I messed up this year

I would mulch through this season -- maybe straw or hay (I like hay for the higher N and other nutrient content, but I know people don't like using hay so choose straw probably) or leaves if you live somewhere with lots of them. Put the mulch down after fertilizing and good rain. If you don't use chemical/salt based fertilizers, then you should get tons of earthworms in no time at all and they will be tunneling around and through the clumps of clay.
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jim&rene
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Re: I messed up this year

that is just what I said to my wife.
" I'm going to cover in (saved) leaves and straw and put in the compost, it Is full of worms, that should help".
So while I have your attention, I make my compost pile from lawn clippings/dried cow manure/dried leaves and whatever green scraps from kitchen, turn weekly and in about 6 weeks add to garden. it only adds up to about (20) 5 gal buckets by then, any other suggestions? we don't use any other fertilizers.

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applestar
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Re: I messed up this year

For corn I think you might want extra N? I do use organic fertilizer for corn. Last year, I used Alaska fish pellets and Dr. earth 4-4-4. This year, although my corn has been doing exceptionally well so far with just the not-quite finished compost full of active worms and soaked alfalfa pellets at initial planting, I just side dressed with Dr. Earth veg. (5-7-3) today -- which actually does NOT have highest N in the three key nutes, but I was persuaded that this is better than what I was *going* to try, which was organic lawn fertilizer.

If I had an easy access to them, I might consider rabbit manure -- have been hearing good things. (I've been saying this since last year without forward progress, but I did find a local rabbit rescue org. about 1/2 hr away....)

... I have to admit though -- I'm still experimenting with growing corn. What do other organic gardener's use for their corn, I wonder?
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