marygreene
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Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:37 pm
Location: zone 7B

Soil problem???

I have a small veg. garden. Tomatoes, cukes, yellow squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash and butternut squash...a few plants of each of those. First the squash.(yellow and zucchini)...the plants were small and had lots of blooms and lots of bees. There is NO squash! Next... the spaghetti squash is very small..about the size of a fist. The tomatoes have smaller vines than usual with a few tomatoes...nothing big. Cukes have been sparce and irregular. Planted this garden in mid May. It has had plenty of water...but not too much. Could this be a soil nutrient problem..????. We live in a new neighborhood where the lot was prepared for building probably not gardening. Any suggestions??? We live in zone 7B

PaulF
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Location: Brownville, Ne

Re: Soil problem???

I think you know the problem. Lots of fill soil is heavy clay type soil and needs lots of organic material and nutrients. It may take a few years to get it into shape. Adding compost or maybe bagged garden soil, but that could get expensive. Leaves, grass clippings along with fertilizer will help for the future. I might suggest a soil test to see exactly what you have and recommendations for your particular soil. Most tests are inexpensive from your county extension or even a local soils lab.
Paul F

marygreene
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Location: zone 7B

Re: Soil problem???

Thank you....thought this might be the problem. Going to get a soil test done soon!

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Soil problem???

Agreed. In a newly built neighborhood, all the topsoil was probably scraped off in the building process. So yes, you need to re-create/ re-build good fertile topsoil. It won't help for right now, but definitely start composting all your kitchen scraps, pulled weeds, yard trimmings, fall leaves, etc. (If you aren't familiar with composting, we have a whole section on it here, with lots of how-to.) Your homemade compost is the best thing you can do to build up good soil.

As noted, planting in the ground, it can take a few years to really build up fertile soil. In the meantime, if you want an instant fix for a small veg garden, you can build raised beds. If you build them framed in and a little taller than normal, you can just fill it with good enriched soil and not worry about what is underneath.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

marygreene
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Location: zone 7B

Re: Soil problem???

Thank you!

KiwiGardener
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Location: Temperate climate Zone 8 New Zealand

Re: Soil problem???

I have a raised garden that was filled with clay soil. I have added lots of compost but now my plants tend to get wet feet because of insufficient drainage. Is it worth using gypsum or do I need to mix the bottom clay soil in with the upper layers which have compost added. Bed is 800mm deep approx. :D
Christchurch NZ is still recovering from the earthquakes. Our city is regenerating with lots of new buildings & lovely new garden spaces. We have "Gap filler" projects featuring popup gardens & cafes.

https://www.PatioGardenGuru.com

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Soil problem???

No point in building a raised bed if you are just going to fill it with clay! :) I understand you weren't the one who did that. If you were building a raised bed on top of clay our advice would have been to take a garden fork or crowbar or something and punch some holes down in to the clay, to promote drainage, then put good soil on top. Perhaps you can still do something like that. I don't know that I would want to mix the clay with your good soil, but you might be able to just dig some of it out and refill the bed with good soil (after making the holes). What are the raised bed sides made of? Do they allow drainage?

You said how tall the beds are (31" inches in American, which is plenty tall), but you didn't say how big or how many. That determines how much work it is worth putting in to it. If you are talking about one meter square plot, you can put the time in to just empty the whole thing and start over. If you are talking about 6 beds double that size, then the project
gets less manageable. ....

Welcome to the Forum!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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ElizabethB
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Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Soil problem???

Hi Marygreene - You have received some excellent advice. I will add my 2 cents.

Providing your actual location - city and state rather than a USDA zone would help the forum members provide you with better information.

I had a landscaping company for 10 years. When I landscaped new homes I spent lots of time and energy removing garbage from just beneath the top level of the soil. Contractors bury construction debris and use it as fill. Not good for the home owner especially if you want to garden or landscape.

I live in south Louisiana. Native soil can vary in the same yard - heavy clay, sandy, or nice loam. My solution has been to practice SFG. My raised beds are 8" tall. My soil mix is 1/3 coarse vermiculite, 1/3 compost and 1/3 peat.

My boxes are old and the boards are rotting so I am in the process of removing the old boxes and building new ones.

Some things I have learned - my current garden consist of 4 - 4' x 4' boxes adjacent to each other. The back side of the boxes butt up against a chain link fence.

Not the best configuration. My new garden will be 2 - maybe 3 4' x 4' boxes. Each box will have at least 3' clearance on all sides.

My boxes will be no more than 8" deep. Before adding my soil mix I will line the boxes with cardboard from appliance boxes. I can get them from Lowe's if I show up early and sometimes even help the guys and gals unbox their appliances. I shop my local Lowe's store frequently enough to know the associates and the managers.

I am fortunate to have a trailer. A good place to mix the 3 soil components. You can add your components to your box and use a garden fork to mix it all up.

Do start composting. Leaves, raw vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells from you kitchen, grass clippings, cured manure if you can find it. A great manure is rabbit manure. You can find that even in a large city. Query rabbit breeders in your city & state. The breeders will be more than happy to have you show up with a shovel and 5 gallon buckets. Rabbit manure is great because it is a "cool" manure. It does not have to cure before use.

Check out the composting forum.

Sorry you had a bad season. My season was awful - lousy weather conditions.

Try SFG or other raised bed gardening techniques.

Much easier than trying to amend your native soil - especially in a newly constructed area.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

KiwiGardener
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:13 am
Location: Temperate climate Zone 8 New Zealand

Re: Soil problem???

I share your problem "marygreene" with poor quality fill soil on a new building site which was compounded by the raised garden being filled with the same soil. I have dug a lot of green waste and compost into this but the base fill is too deep to turn over and has formed a hard layer where my plants roots have inadequate drainage. My landscaping is due for an insurance repair early next year so it will be a good time to replace the fill.
Christchurch NZ is still recovering from the earthquakes. Our city is regenerating with lots of new buildings & lovely new garden spaces. We have "Gap filler" projects featuring popup gardens & cafes.

https://www.PatioGardenGuru.com

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