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MikeFIT
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Blue Tomatoes, purple Caulfiflower, and Sandy Clay Soil

A few things.. I am excited as several of my tomato seeds are starting to sprout in my cheapo portable greenhouse. Tonight I planted some crazy Blue Tomatoes I found online just for the heck of it. I also have some purple cauliflower but haven't planted yet. Has anyone tried planting either of those before?

Now I am a bit nervous that come April when I transplant, the new house I am at in Southern Maryland has an odd soil mix. The house is on a cliff right over Chesapeake Bay. I just cut a ton of trees down so I could make a 10x15 foot plot for the garden without too much shade. Ive gotten all the roots out and now i have to frame the garden and address the soil issue. At first glance the soil is pretty -- black and grey -- a nice looking top soil with lots of rotting leaves on top. Once you get down about 8 inches, there is really sandy soil in some areas and really orangy clay in others. As I till and bring out more roots, It mixes in a bit. I ordered 3 tons of topsoil to put on top, but I'm afraid once the roots hit the clay/sand soil deeper, it could be bad news. Any thoughts? ignore it? Try to fix it?
Live in DC - Garden in Southern MD/Chesapeake Bay

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rainbowgardener
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That is odd soil - sand and clay are usually opposite ends of the soil spectrum.

Three tons sounds like a lot on a 10 x 15 plot. If it is deep enough, you don't need to worry about what is underneath.

If it is time to plant tomatoes, then it is probably a bit late to plant cauliflower. Tomatoes are tender, don't tolerate frost or too much cold and like it when it warms up. Cauliflower is cod hardy and frost tolerant, but doesn't do well once it gets hot. I planted my broccoli (closely related) mid January. Not that you shouldn't plant yours now, but for next year, it will probably do better started earlier.
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imafan26
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The trees that were there before had been dropping leaves and branches and enriching the soil with humus. Really good stuff. That 8 inches you have is probably golden.

A lot of "topsoil" isn't topsoil at all. A lot of it is just plain dirt. The first few inches of soil that grew under the trees was real topsoil. Forest soils are generally poor except for the first few inches. The trees were using up the nutrients after all but replacing it with leaves and branches.

You should probably also put in some compost with the soil you are adding, if you are adding it for depth. It will help hold on to moisture especially in sandy soil.

The least work way to build the garden would be by sheet composting. You are in luck because the trees have been doing that for you for years. I think you just have to consider adding some nitrogen like blood meal or composted manure. Planting some legumes first would also be a good idea since they don't need that much nitrogen.

Continue to build the beds by adding compost and mulch to retain water. You said you had 8 inches of rich soil already so I would not worry too much about the sandy soil below. The solution would still be the same, adding compost and organic elements to enrich and hold on to water.

https://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/s ... osting.pdf

On a side note, one of the most primitive farming methods was slash and burn farming. People cut down and burned forests to plant their fields. No nutrients were replaced, plants were consumed, eventually the soils would be depleted and unproductive and they people moved on to another part of the forest. However, people failed to understand and value the trees importance in preventing soil erosion. Sometimes when people left the forest would grow back and could be used again a few years later. But, in some places, especially where there is drought and flooding rains, the soil eroded and desert replaced the forest. Displaced soil caused unexpected flooding as the trees not only held on to the soil, they also held on to the water. Trees also provided protection of the soil and under story plants from erosion from the wind.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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MikeFIT
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rainbowgardener wrote:That is odd soil - sand and clay are usually opposite ends of the soil spectrum.

Three tons sounds like a lot on a 10 x 15 plot. If it is deep enough, you don't need to worry about what is underneath.

If it is time to plant tomatoes, then it is probably a bit late to plant cauliflower. Tomatoes are tender, don't tolerate frost or too much cold and like it when it warms up. Cauliflower is cod hardy and frost tolerant, but doesn't do well once it gets hot. I planted my broccoli (closely related) mid January. Not that you shouldn't plant yours now, but for next year, it will probably do better started earlier.
Well the 3tons adds a lot of depth but not more than about 6 inches or so.
I am going to try to till more and see what comes of the sand, clay, and new topsoil mixing.

I'm in Zone 7B... You wouldn't go ahead with the Cauliflower at this point? Also, I've never planted Cauliflower before. Would you grow inside first or directly plant outside?
Live in DC - Garden in Southern MD/Chesapeake Bay

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rainbowgardener
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I said you could go ahead, just know for next year, it will probably do better started earlier. Once it gets hot, they tend to start opening the buds up into flowers, instead of making bigger heads.

In the winter, I start mine indoors, because they get a head start, and I can start them indoors while the ground outside is still frozen. By the time they are transplant size, the ground is ready (theoretically, although mine have been waiting awhile) At the end of summer for fall crop, I just direct seed them in the ground.
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applestar
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I think in 7B you could directly sow in the ground now. I think I did that last year around 3rd week of March here in Zone 6B. 10-14 days to sprout, though indoors on heat mat they would sprout in 3-4 days -- it will depend on the weather and temp. You could try starting some indoors too.

Directly sown babies are susceptible to slugs and snails in eary spring. That's another reason for growing and transplanting started larger, tougher plants.

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applestar
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did the "blue" tomatoes have a name -- like OSU Blue?

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