gooberfarmer
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A question on compaction

A little background before my question. First, I have extremely sandy soil. However, I also have to deal with a soil variety we call caliche. Caliche can be used as a substitute to concrete so I avoid compaction because it seems to create a crust that seedlings have trouble breaking through.
Now to my question. Birds ate me out of house and home on my first plantings, so I replanted my lettuce, beets, and romaine lettuce. I know it may be too late, but I figured it didn't hurt to try.
I left the gate open and a dog got into the garden. Every where he stepped on my rows, the seedlings emerged earlier and seem to be doing better. His pawprints created inch deep holes, at the least. I plan to start sowing the warmer season stuff this week and was wondering if you all would recommend compacting more, or if this may only help early and be a problem later. My apologies on being long winded, just wanted to explain the full situation.

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jal_ut
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[url=https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/planting/planting.htm]Check This Out[/url]

Some thought I was crazy when I said to step on the row after planting.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

gooberfarmer
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I saw where you said that with the snap peas. I almost did that with everything, but I was afraid it was a snap pea only deal. Thank you sir. That was exactly what I needed to know.

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hendi_alex
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I don't know where I got the habit, but I always walk the row a couple of times to compress the soil around the seeds. In the limited till and raised bed areas I don't mash the soil as thoroughly, but the last step even in those spaces is to take my hoe and press firmly over newly planted seeds. For regular row, in ground planting, my last step is to walk the row placing one foot in front of the other in order to press to soil against the seeds and to eliminate air pockets. I can't say that this is necessary, in fact may be superstition or voodoo, but the idea had to come from someone else who modeled the practice. For the life of me though, I don't know why I picked up the practice or from where it came.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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digitS'
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Re: A question on compaction

gooberfarmer wrote:. . . I left the gate open and a dog got into the garden. Every where he stepped on my rows, the seedlings emerged earlier and seem to be doing better. . .
I have noticed the same thing!

There were 2 big pitbulls that the owner would turn loose in the evening about a half-block down from my smaller veggie garden. The tenet who lived in the house at my garden claimed he didn't care - they were nice dogs :? . These big dogs would only trample thru on their way to visit the dogs on the other side of the fence.

The seedlings in their foot prints always came up first and did fine!

Last year, only 1 of the pitbulls was left and he was lame . . . I haven't seen him yet this year, nor his footprints. I think the owner moved away. Anyway, my observation helped keep DW from coming unglued - at both the dog's owner and the tenant.

I'm not quite ready to rest my #13's and 200#'s on a bed I've just cultivated to the full depth of the spading fork tines. However, I've used a board and leaned on it, over the top of a row. And, if a dog runs thru - I'm not going to have a tizzy either :wink: .

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

orgoveg
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When I bought my first house, I was anal about making the lawn perfect. I spent a good deal of time seeding some bare spots and I got really mad when a neighbor kid stepped all over one. I never expressed my frustration to the kid, so I wasn't mean. Anyway, guess where the grass grew best. In the footprints!

I learned that seeds need good contact with the soil for germination. The stuff that James posted just taught me about the moisture wicking effect. After loosening the soil, you certainly don't want to pack it back down, but I believe that a little tamping on the spots were you put the seeds is helpful.

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jal_ut
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In my link I showed a picture of a garden seeder. Look closely at it. The drill is followed by a chain dragging to cover the seed, then the rear wheel which firms the soil.

Have you ever watched when a landscape company direct seeds a lawn? The last thing they do is run a heavy roller over the area.

Have you ever watched a farmer prepare a field for seeding alfalfa? Alfalfa is a very small seed about like a mustard. The farmer will pull a heavy roller over the field.

Did you know that most garden veggies put down roots to the 3 to 8 foot deep level? How do you suppose that those roots penetrate that deep soil that has never been loosened by the gardener?

How then can you be afraid to compact the soil over your newly planted seeds? We have just seen testimony that it actually helps the seed if we will do that.

I will add that compacting the soil slows down drying from the wind. It puts the seed in firm contact with the soil so it can obtain water from the soil. It lets the soil wick up water from down below. Light fluffy soil will not wick up water. The soil particles have to be close together so there can be capillary action. If you have the soil all fluffed up and the wind comes up it will dry the top 2 inches and no water will wick up. So your seed is only half an inch deep and dry. It won't germinate, or it may germinate then die as the moisture is removed by the wind.

Next time you plant, try the test. Step on half the row and not the other half. See for yourself. We learn to do by doing.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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[url=https://balewagons.com/images/uploads/0000/0603/DSC02380.jpg]Drill[/url]

Hope the link works. It is a picture of a farmers drill. Notice the press wheels on the rear. Yes, it is common knowledge among farmers and equipment manufacturers that the soil needs to be compacted over seeds.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

DoubleDogFarm
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What do you consider natures roller, millions of years of self sowing?

I tread where no seeds have gone before. :lol:


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rootsy
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Good soil to seed contact is very important to germination.

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jal_ut
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The fact that seed will germinate just lying on untilled soil, (compacted) confirms the point I am trying to make that compacted soil will wick up moisture from down below. In areas that have high humidity and/or get lots of rain, surface moisture is likely always there. However in dry Utah where I garden, it is a different story. You had better do all that you can to conserve moisture.

In natures plan, seed falls in the fall, and during the following months, the soil gets wet and dries, gets frozen and thaws, maybe many times. As you well know drying cycles cracks the the soil surface, as does freezing and thawing. So the seed falls into the cracks and is planted. We don't have a plow disturbing the soil, but the plant roots themselves go deep and when the plant dies the microbes devour the organic matter leaving the void where the root was to allow moisture, air or new roots to penetrate the soil. Insects and little furry critters also tunnel and till the soil. Freezing heaves the soil, and loosens it as it thaws. It is a grand plan.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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SPierce
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Thanks everyone for mentioning this... i was so worried about stomping on my garden beds while walking around planting, etc but I guess i shouldn't be!

DoubleDogFarm
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In natures plan, seed falls in the fall, and during the following months, the soil gets wet and dries, gets frozen and thaws, maybe many times. As you well know drying cycles cracks the the soil surface, as does freezing and thawing. So the seed falls into the cracks and is planted. We don't have a plow disturbing the soil, but the plant roots themselves go deep and when the plant dies the microbes devour the organic matter leaving the void where the root was to allow moisture, air or new roots to penetrate the soil. Insects and little furry critters also tunnel and till the soil. Freezing heaves the soil, and loosens it as it thaws. It is a grand plan.
Nature is a grand plan. This sound like an argument for no-till. I guess the next question is, why do we still rototill. Are we not loosing all the air, water and voids by tilling the soil to a powder and compacting?
The fact that seed will germinate just lying on untilled soil, (compacted) confirms the point I am trying to make that compacted soil will wick up moisture from down below. In areas that have high humidity and/or get lots of rain, surface moisture is likely always there. However in dry Utah where I garden, it is a different story. You had better do all that you can to conserve moisture.
Though your garden is large James, it not so large mulching is out of order.

Eric

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jal_ut
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No till is a gardening method that some are having success with. I think it would work well on a small scale.

DD, as you well know tilling fluffs up the soil and introduces pockets of air into the soil. It also promotes drying by the wind. (not necessarily on the plus side) It also makes a nice seed bed. The main benefit I see from tilling though is that it works organic matter into the soil, and especially so if more organic matter is put on the area before tilling. Another plus, the killing of weeds. How are you going to remove weeds and grass without tilling? BTW, digging with hand tools is also tilling. Tilling the soil has been practiced since recorded history. It still works. I guess that is why I continue to till.

I try to avoid tilling in the spring because the ground is too wet. If I till my ground when wet it goes to clumps which take all season to break down. Tilling dries the soil as I mentioned earlier. In the spring I want to retain the moisture. This year has been unusually wet and I can't get my garden dried out enough to plant. I am glad I tilled in the fall.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

orgoveg
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That's really very interesting jal. You make a pretty good case. I've seen the photos of your gardens and harvests. You can't argue with success, right? You know a whole lot more than I probably ever will. I'm not ready to start packing down my rows and mounds, but I have a little extra space this year to do some experimenting.

hit or miss
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I always tamp down the seed rows with the back of my rake. I stand the rake upright and just move it straight up and back down firmly. I spent most of my life around farming and Jal is right. Planters and drills all pack the soil in the seed row as the last operation of seeding.

garden5
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I think you're right Jal. Although I've not yet mustered the courage to walk all over my seed-plantings, I do tamp the soil well with my hand. Hey, it's a start :lol:.

I believe that seed-to-soil contact really is something very important and I think that many of us here have been guilty of "babying" our seeds.

That's what's neat about gardening: you're always learning totally new things.
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