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TheWaterbug
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How to break up rock-hard soil?

My property has an old paddock that's no longer used for horses. [url=https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/TillingThePumpkinPatch.mp4]I rented a rototiller[/url] and churned up the top few inches of soil, but it's like concrete below that layer.

If I swing a pickaxe through it, I can get through ~6-8 inches of compacted sandy stuff, and then there's heavy black clay underneath that. The sandy stuff will break apart in my hands, but it's like breaking up sandstone. I'm 215 lbs, and I can't get through it with just a shovel; I actually need the pickaxe.

I dug a hole about a foot deep and filled it with water. An hour later the water still hadn't drained away.

I was sorta successful planting pumpkins in the paddock last year, but after we harvested all the pumpkins I dug out a few vines, and I saw that they really hadn't rooted below the few inches of topsoil.

Any suggestions on how to break this up? Equipment I can rent for a day? Something to plant in the winter that would actually penetrate? Explosives? It would take me a year to break it all up with the pickaxe!

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Kisal
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I think you have what is called hardpan. You can correct it, but it's going to be a big job, I think. You have to dig through it. The tool called a broadfork is designed for this purpose, but you can use a mattock or pickax, if you prefer. If you have or can rent or borrow a tractor, you can use a chisel plow to break through hardpan.

Once you get it all broken up, you have to add a lot of organic material, such as compost and well-rotted manure. Personally, I would add a bunch of gypsum, too. Check the pH and add whatever is necessary to correct it. You'll probably have to amend it annually, to keep it from reforming into hardpan.

Or, you can build raised beds in the paddock. I would make them a couple feet deep, and drill holes all around the bottom edges, to make sure there's sufficient drainage. JMO. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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TheWaterbug
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Ah! This is confirmation that I've picked the right forum to join. Thanks for the info; I've learned three new words!

I might pick up a broadfork for a smaller area that I'm doing this weekend, and I'll have to look into renting a chisel plow next year to dig up the whole field.

For testing the soil, are [url=https://www.amazon.com/Luster-Leaf-1601-Rapitest-Soil/dp/B0000DI845/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304378745&sr=8-1]kits like this worth $15?[/url] Or am I better off getting it tested professionally?

Thanks!

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Personally, I would toss down a bunch of organic matter and gypsum then build a raised bed (just like Kisal stated).

I would locate your county extension office and they will typically take your soil samples and test them for you. I would rather pay them then buy a kit and put the chemistry into my hands!

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Kisal
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TheWaterbug wrote:For testing the soil, are [url=https://www.amazon.com/Luster-Leaf-1601-Rapitest-Soil/dp/B0000DI845/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304378745&sr=8-1]kits like this worth $15?[/url] Or am I better off getting it tested professionally?
You might want to do it both ways, just for fun. Soil test kits are readily available at most garden supply stores. I haven't really found one I liked a lot or thoroughly trusted, though. To get a real answer that you can depend on, you can't beat a professional test.

If you have an Extension Service office near you, they used to perform soil tests for free. I'm sure they charge for the service now. If they don't actually do the tests themselves, they can refer you to a place that does. The Extension Service is affiliated with universities across the country, and offer a wide variety of services and assistance to members of the public.

The Internet has placed an enormous amount of information at our fingertips, but the Extension Service can help you understand the details of your exact area, such as soil composition and geology, insect pests and helpers, weather patterns, and a lot of other stuff. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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applestar
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Your choice of plants this year matters too. I found sunflowers and corn are pretty good at penetrating clay soil. Alfalfa as cover crop is said to grow deep roots. Potatoes are also known for their ability to function as pioneer crop as are deep rooted mustards and radishes.

Pigweed/amaranth is another.

In all cases, what you want to do is to leave their roots in the ground as organic matter rather than uprooting them at the end of the season.

Building compost piles on-site also helps.

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Plant it to sunflowers this year. They have a jackhammer like taproot that really penetrates soil and breaks it up. I would do some hard work this year to get some of it planted and let the sunflowers do the rest!

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TheWaterbug
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Good news! I just happen to be putting in some corn and sunflowers right now. I'm only putting them in one section of the field, so we'll see how they do after the season has ended. I've already committed most of the rest of the field to pumpkins.

I had no idea that broadforks were so expensive. The good ones appear to be nearly $200. After watching some of those videos I'm skeptical as to whether I'll be able to get through my sandstone with them. If these were $40 at Home Depot I'd just try one out, but for $200 I need to consider carefully and make sure I get the right one.

Valley Oak [url=https://www.valleyoaktools.com/broadfork.html]makes one with a gusset[/url] to reinforce each tine. Anyone used one of these?

And [url=https://www.wateryourlandscape.com/broadforkgardentiller?gclid=CI-TzfCkzKgCFYPD7Qod0DOSRA]these folks make one with replaceable tines.[/url].

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applestar
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I imagine $40 HD version would end up with bent tines or snapped handles. :wink:

... That said, I still haven't bought one-- even though it's on the wish list along with things like pressure canner, chipper shredder, and greenhouse 8) -- and because the area I work are individually pretty small, though they add up o a fair amount of space altogether.

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Broadforks are a one-time, lifetime purchase. [url=https://www.johnnyseeds.com/c-469-broadforks.aspx]Johnny's Selected Seeds[/url] in Maine developed their models in consultation with Eliot Coleman; [url=https://www.bountifulgardens.org/prodinfo.asp?number=SUB-9045]Bountiful Gardens[/url] in Willits, California, carries those developed by Jon Jeavons.

NOTE on the Jeavons U-forks: each is custom-made for the gardener. For those who follow Jeavons' double-digging guidelines to the letter, the first double-digging prepares the ground 24" deep; subsequent double-digs (which the U-bar can be used for) are only needed to 18", b/c the subsurface re-compacts more slowly than the upper surface (pp. 11-14 or so of [url=https://www.bountifulgardens.org/prodinfo.asp?number=BEA-0300]How to Grow More Vegetables[/url], by Jon Jeavons). His book is a complete book for new and experienced gardeners, providing sample layouts for Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3, as well as how much to plant for X pounds of harvest.

For gardening in California, I also strongly recommend [url=https://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/books/sunsetwesterngardenbook.htm]Sunset's Western Garden Book[/url], especially for its climate-zone maps, which are very finely drawn, with 29 climate zones in the western states and provinces versus only 11 USDA Hardiness Zones in all of North America. (My personal copy is the 7th ed., not the most recent 8th.)

You're at an exciting moment in your gardening life! Congratulations!

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

gooberfarmer
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Waterbug-
If the soil is as hard as you say it is, I'm afraid even a broadfork won't be stout enough. In Eastern New Mexico we have soil called caliche which is just as tough as the stuff you describe. On parts of my acreage I'll either have to build raised beds or just give up. Even heavy duty farm equipment can't break through the stuff.

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gooberfarmer wrote:Waterbug-
If the soil is as hard as you say it is, I'm afraid even a broadfork won't be stout enough.
It is in some places, but not everywhere. I'm guessing that the compaction is due to 50 years of horse hooves pounding on it, and it's worst right in the middle of the field/paddock.

At the edges it's somewhat more reasonable. I dug out a furrow near one edge with my pickaxe this morning, and I sorta got the feeling that a broadfork might work in this area.

I found [url=https://meadowcreature.com/broadfork.php]this scary-looking broadfork[/url] for $250, and the blade-like construction looks like it might be more resistant to bending than a tine with a round cross-section. Here's [url=https://www.groworganic.com/deep-spader.html]another bladed design[/url] for $229 (+S/H). Pricewise, I'm moving in the wrong direction!

But I'd be OK with spending $250 if it works and is durable.

If I can get through the sandy layer I'd be happy. I'm not too optimistic about the clay layer that's beneath it all, but that's nearly a foot down, so it's not a disaster if I have to just live with it. It's not just clayey; it's actually clay. I feels like the brick of potters clay that I have in a plastic bag in the garage, but drier and harder.

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applestar
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I would definitely consider cover cropping the areas you won't have worked this year.

You may want to forego the conventional wussy cover crops sold for the purpose to grow in cultivated fields, and look at the weeds that are actually setting down roots and managing to grow in the clay hardpan. They are the natures pioneers and recovery crew for devastated areas. Left to themselves, the weeds will forge the way for the next team, and they in turn for the next until someday, the entire area would become a forest.... But we're getting ahead of ourselves. :wink: We just want the first phase crew to break up the clay soil and add organic matter. 8)

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TheWaterbug wrote:
gooberfarmer wrote:Waterbug-
If the soil is as hard as you say it is, I'm afraid even a broadfork won't be stout enough.
It is in some places, but not everywhere. I'm guessing that the compaction is due to 50 years of horse hooves pounding on it, and it's worst right in the middle of the field/paddock.

At the edges it's somewhat more reasonable. I dug out a furrow near one edge with my pickaxe this morning, and I sorta got the feeling that a broadfork might work in this area.

I found [url=https://meadowcreature.com/broadfork.php]this scary-looking broadfork[/url] for $250, and the blade-like construction looks like it might be more resistant to bending than a tine with a round cross-section. Here's [url=https://www.groworganic.com/deep-spader.html]another bladed design[/url] for $229 (+S/H). Pricewise, I'm moving in the wrong direction!

But I'd be OK with spending $250 if it works and is durable.
The ground you're dealing with is, unfortunately, very common in California: adobe clay. The stuff the missions and Spanish colonial buildings were made of. The buildings that have weathered two and a half centuries of storms and earthquakes. Pretty durable stuff. People (like me) who have moved here from Georgia's famous "red clay" have found the adobe to be an entirely different--and much more difficult--clay. It may be like the New Mexico caliche; I haven't fought with caliche, so can't give a personal comparison.

Now that you know what you're up against with the adobe, consider the design of all the broadforks you've looked at.

1) Personally, I would remove from consideration *any* broadfork I could not stand on, like the "deep spader" you found. The broadfork/U-bar is not meant to be an upper-body workout device. Women can and do regularly break ground with this tool, and it's not because of our superior upper-body strength relative to men; it's because we can exert *all* of our body strength/weight on this tool by standing on the crossbar safely and in an ergonomically effective way.

The strength and width of the crossbar, into which the tines are set, are critical for this purpose. Consider both how robust the crossbar is and how wide the tool is. 14", for example, wouldn't work for me, as my personal "cross-section" in the hips is (shall we say?) more than 14". I wouldn't be able to stand on such a narrow crossbar in a safe *or* effective manner. Only a very slender person could stand on a 14" crossbar and be able to move his/her arms as well. A broadfork/U-bar with a crossbar at least 18" or 19" wide and preferably wider would be great; I could stand on these quite sturdily and exert my weight very effectively while keeping a good arm position.

2) The length of the poles + tines is important, especially for tall (> 5'6") individuals. Some of the broadforks are 48" from the ground to the end of the handles (poles). That sounds terrific for me, but I'm 5'4". For my DH, who's 6'1", it would be a particularly difficult form of torture; he would have to stand on the broadfork in a very cramped, bent-over position. Not safe for him, and certainly not healthy for his back/shoulders or effective in breaking ground via use of his body weight. :(

Some broadforks come with longer poles, and the length of the tines varies from maker to maker, so measure yourself and estimate what total length of broadfork would be comfortable for you (and your gardening partner, if you have one) to use. Also read the makers' descriptions carefully; some refer to the length of the poles alone; others refer to the length of the poles + tines.

3) The last factor I recommend looking at for ergonomic/ground-breaking reasons is the number and strength of the tines. Some of the broadforks have widely spaced tines, approx. 5" apart, while others are much closer together, approx. 3". How finely do you need your ground broken up? Maybe you'd like to approach this project in two phases: this year, for the "cooperative" soil, and then next year--after the deep-rooted plants have done their work--for the very compacted center soil.

I'm pleased to see that the market has expanded in the past two or three years so that there are many choices available. Unfortunately, it also makes decision-making more difficult! :) Just read what all the websites have to say, and make liberal use of toll-free phone numbers and other interactive methods the makers have available to inform you about their products. At least one of the makers (Johnnys) has videos and instruction sheets on the website to assist in understanding how a broadfork/U-bar works; this may help in decision-making as well.

Happy gardening! :D

Cynthia

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The last 2 places I have lived the soil is rock hard when it is dry. The best way to break it up is catch it in the spring when it is drying out. If you till it too soon you bet mud balls that dry hard like gravel. You just have watch the soil and try to till it a little as it is getting dryer. The the moisture is right the soil tills easy the it crumbles up real nice. Once you get it tilled spread about 4" of peat moss over the soil and till it again about 3 times. If you can get some free scrap sheet rock from a construction site put lots of sheet rock in the soil gypsum and the organic material will keep the soil from getting hard again. Tennessee State University did some research on adding gypsum to the soil it has increased their crop production about 3 times just by adding gypsum. You need to do a web search and read what they did I don't recall how much gypsum they added.

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I am converting my garden to "raised beds" , "no till", square foot" gardening method. I had good soil but like the method & for me is less work & better results.
Your soil is "Prime" for building some beds on top & start getting good production.
The tough part may be getting enough good soil or compost to get any quantity going.
Since you have most of the plot dedicated now, put in a few beds with good soil & add as you have space & can. Try one & see how it works for you.

A tip I learned with working with hard sandy soil is to get it good & wet before digging or tilling. If possible, lay out a few soaker hoses over night & give it a try the next day. It helps it break up easier (easier is relative) from what you describe, anything helpful is easier.

Start looking around for horse farms with manure piles. You may score a few loads to get a big compost bin started & you're on your way.

Good luck , good gardening.
Last edited by bogydave on Thu May 05, 2011 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"

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TheWaterbug
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cynthia_h wrote:The ground you're dealing with is, unfortunately, very common in California: adobe clay. The stuff the missions and Spanish colonial buildings were made of. The buildings that have weathered two and a half centuries of storms and earthquakes. Pretty durable stuff. People (like me) who have moved here from Georgia's famous "red clay" have found the adobe to be an entirely different--and much more difficult--clay. It may be like the New Mexico caliche; I haven't fought with caliche, so can't give a personal comparison.

Now that you know what you're up against with the adobe, consider the design of all the broadforks you've looked at.
Wow! Thanks for the encyclopedic post!

I think I'm convincing myself to invest in the Meadow Creatures model. I searched for reviews, and [url=https://www.littlecitygardens.com/2010/11/broadfork/]here's a writeup[/url] that compares it very favorably to the Johnny's Seeds model that was not robust enough.

And the Meadow Creatures website actually claims that theirs is suitable for breaking new ground, as opposed to others that warn against it.

I'd prefer a longer handle (I'm 6' 1"), but that's not a dealbreaker.

I just have to talk myself into spending the money.

cynthia_h
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TheWaterbug wrote: Wow! Thanks for the encyclopedic post!

I think I'm convincing myself to invest in the Meadow Creatures model. I searched for reviews, and [url=https://www.littlecitygardens.com/2010/11/broadfork/]here's a writeup[/url] that compares it very favorably to the Johnny's Seeds model that was not robust enough.

And the Meadow Creatures website actually claims that theirs is suitable for breaking new ground, as opposed to others that warn against it.

I'd prefer a longer handle (I'm 6' 1"), but that's not a dealbreaker.

I just have to talk myself into spending the money.
No kidding about the $$$; serious money for a serious ground-breaking tool. This isn't just a big trowel or something.

I've written a comment at the write-up you found asking which of the four Johnny's broadforks failed on them. (Coincidentally, my gardening girlfriend may want to bring some of *her* California adobe into production! So she and I--mostly "I"--are gathering information on specific performance.) One of Johnny's models is openly described as "lighter" than the others; I sincerely hope it was this one that failed, and not one of the regular, heavy-duty ones. :(

Re. "encyclopedic": every now and then, my brain hits this gear, and...words come flying out, already in paragraphs. I just do a little brush-up editing and fact-checking, and the post grows almost on its own :oops: and grows....

Cynthia

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If you want to put the money into, it a backhoe would be ideal followed by mixing in large amounts of organic matter (wood chips, straw etc), which would take a year or two to settle down but would be long term. On a smaller budget you could rent a power auger/post hole digger and 'swiss cheese' the area to allow roots down into the most soil below the clay.

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rootsy
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You are going to have to mechanically fracture the soil since you live in an area that won't see freezing temperatures and ground penetrating frost...

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TheWaterbug
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TheWaterbug wrote:I found [url=https://meadowcreature.com/broadfork.php]this scary-looking broadfork[/url] for $250, and the blade-like construction looks like it might be more resistant to bending than a tine with a round cross-section.
OK! I ordered one of these. I emailed Bob at meadowcreatures.com about longer handles yesterday, and he told me he only puts longer handles on the broadforks for local pickup, because otherwise they'd exceed the maximum length for affordable shipment (which is included in the $250 price).

But the ends of the metal handles are just open tubes, so it shouldn't be too difficult to insert some closet rods or something to extend the handles a few inches if I need to. But I'll wait until I actually use it to see if I need the extra leverage.

TZ-yes, I'd thought about "swiss cheesing" the field as well, but I couldn't find the correct word to search for in terms of rental equipment. "power auger" was it. Next season I'll look into renting one; I've already dug out a bunch of holes for this years pumpkin patch with the pickaxe, and I have the blisters to prove it!

What diameter hole do you think I'd need to properly plant a pumpkin? The two-man augers seem to max out at 18".

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TheWaterbug wrote:...I had no idea that broadforks were so expensive. The good ones appear to be nearly $200. After watching some of those videos I'm skeptical as to whether I'll be able to get through my sandstone with them. ...[/url].
I own, and use, a Broadfork... and I think your skepticism is warranted for that job. A Broadfork is a great tool for working soil that is already a fairly good garden soil... I would not recommend it for trying to penetrate a heavily compacted or hard-panned soil.
In my experience, it's simply not made for that job (now matter how rugged or expensive the Broadfork is), and it's not going to work.

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Regarding pumpkin holes. It is important that you undertand what the roots are doing. It would be best to have a shallow layer of good soil on top for a wide area of nutrient uptake with spaced holes going down to the moisture, so a single deep hole or any size may/will cause problems.



This describes the root behaviour of many garden vegetables.

https://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137toc.html

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TheWaterbug
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TZ -OH6 wrote:This describes the root behaviour of many garden vegetables.

https://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137toc.html
That's an impressive book. Here's the scary part:
Method of Root Study.--In the present studies the direct method of root examination has been employed. It has been used by the writer and his coworkers in the excavation of hundred of root systems during the past 14 years and has proved very satisfactory. By the side of the plants to, be examined, a long trench is dug to a depth of about 5 feet and of convenient width. This affords an open face into which one may dig with hand pick and ice pick and thus uncover and make a careful examination of the entire root system. This apparently simple process, however, requires much practice, not a little patience, and wide experience with soil structure. In every case several plants were examined at each stage of development to insure an adequate idea of the general root habit. As the work of excavation progressed, the trench was deepened, if necessary, so that finally the soil underlying the deepest roots was removed. Frequently, the trenches reached depths of 6 to 11 feet (Fig. 2).
There's a fine photo of a study site, too.

I think this is why Man domesticated and bred that beast of burden commonly known as the "grad student."

Back on topic, it looks like the bulk of pumpkin rooting occurs in the top 12 inches of soil, despite taproots extending as deeply as 6 feet. Of course this is _not_ going to happen in my field any time soon!

But in that top 1-2 feet, the laterals sometimes extended out to 17.5".

So it looks like getting the top 12" into reasonable shape would be more important than digging a deep "well" for the taproots, especially if I have poor drainage.

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TheWaterbug
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farmerlon wrote:
TheWaterbug wrote:...I had no idea that broadforks were so expensive. The good ones appear to be nearly $200. After watching some of those videos I'm skeptical as to whether I'll be able to get through my sandstone with them. ...[/url].
I own, and use, a Broadfork... and I think your skepticism is warranted for that job. A Broadfork is a great tool for working soil that is already a fairly good garden soil... I would not recommend it for trying to penetrate a heavily compacted or hard-panned soil.
In my experience, it's simply not made for that job (now matter how rugged or expensive the Broadfork is), and it's not going to work.
That's OK; I have reasonable expectations for it. There's significant variation in my soil across the field (it's approx 60' x 70'), and there are places (such as where I'm planting corn) where it feels like that broadfork might do some good.

In the center "parking lot" section, I'll test out the 'fork, and if it looks like it's just too much for it, I'll look into alternatives. Like dynamite, perhaps :D

Gypsum's been recommended a couple of of times in this thread as a longer-term solution. From my understanding of what I've read, it percolates into the soil over time and chemically reverses or inhibits the crystallization that creates the hardpan. Is that more or less correct?

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rootsy
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You really need a sub-soiler (ripper) pulled through there @ about 18" deep. All depends on how much area you have and the ability to get equipment in there. Takes some HP and weight to move a 4 shank... Bout 250 HP here in the Midwest...

gooberfarmer
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Here is a link for a single shank one.

https://www.tractorsupply.com/agriculture-farming-ranching/3-point-equipment/3-point-ground-engaging-equipment/countyline-reg-sub-soiler-2128333

My guess is a 70HP tractor would do the job. You can rent them around here from rental places.

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TheWaterbug
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TheWaterbug wrote:That's OK; I have reasonable expectations for it. There's significant variation in my soil across the field (it's approx 60' x 70'), and there are places (such as where I'm planting corn) where it feels like that broadfork might do some good.

In the center "parking lot" section, I'll test out the 'fork, and if it looks like it's just too much for it, I'll look into alternatives. Like dynamite, perhaps :D
OK! The massive Meadow Creatures broadfork arrived yesterday by Fedex Ground. It's a piece of work. It really does feel indestructible.

I used it for about 30 minutes today, 'forking the two aisles between three rows of corn seedlings. I've been soaking this area for the last 24 hrs with a dripline, but it was still pretty hard (and this is my "good" area).

I had to stand on the fork and rock it side-to-side and back-and-forth about 10-15 times to get it sunk all the way in, and then it took nearly all my weight and leverage to lever it up. It felt like I was digging up 18" x 18" paving stones! Once they came up they kinda broke apart into sections a bit, and when I released the fork, dust came shooting out of the cracks in the ground like it does in the movies when you open an old mummy coffin :D

I slid ~8-10 inches back and did it again, and again, and again. In 30 minutes I forked two aisles about 30' long each, and it actually breaks up an area about 2' wide. So it's definitely doable for a morning activity. I just wished I'd forked this area _before_ I'd planted my corn.

I also tried it in the "parking lot" area, and it's definitely tougher here, but it does work. I had to rock it on both axes at least 20-25 times to get it sunk in, but I didn't have to jump on it or do anything crazy. And this soilcrete is too hard to lever up a full 14" depth with one pull. I had to back out to half-depth, lever it up, then plunge back in and lever up the bottom portion. All accompanied by the "mummy dust" each time. I'd guess that I'd work through this area at 1/3 to 1/2 the speed that I'm working through the "good" areas.

It's definitely work, but it's not difficult work. It's about 10x easier than the pickaxe, and 4-5x faster as well. The hardest part is balancing on the fork when there's only 1/2" sunk into the ground.

I'm leaving on a week-long business trip tomorrow (hence all the other threads about drip watering), but when I get back I'll try to shoot some video of me forking the field.
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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TheWaterbug
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Here's another followup on my hard soil. I needed to excavate a bit so a structural engineer could look at the footings of my retaining wall, so here's what my soil cross section looks like:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/SoilLayers.jpg[/img]
My foot is about a foot long :), so you can see the 4-6 inches of good topsoil, followed by ~6 inches of horrible compacted sand, followed by thick, black clay that evidently goes all the way to China.

Here's my new broadfork, with its 14" tines laid against the layers:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/SoilLayersAndBroadfork.jpg[/img]

If I drive it all the way in, it'll pick up the soil and sand, and maybe a few inches of the clay.
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

slyguy
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cool. turned up any big stones yet? any tines bend or give at all?

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TheWaterbug
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slyguy wrote:cool. turned up any big stones yet? any tines bend or give at all?
Not yet. I've felt the tines hit a few rocks on the way down, but if I rock it enough times it usually either breaks through or slides by. No damage to any of the tines so far.

I've yanked on the handles as hard as I can, and I'm 6' 1", 215#, so if it were bendable, I'd have bent it by now. I think this thing is truly indestructible. You have to heft this thing to appreciate how heavy duty it is.

The only downside is that a smaller person might have a difficult time handling it. It's a good thing my smaller person has absolutely zero interest in helping me in the garden :)
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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TheWaterbug
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TheWaterbug wrote:I'm leaving on a week-long business trip tomorrow (hence all the other threads about drip watering), but when I get back I'll try to shoot some video of me forking the field.
Well, it's two months later than I promised, but I've finally posted [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KBVJnKgsnw]some video of the broadfork in action[/url]:

[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/BroadforkVideo.jpg[/img]

I had my 7-year-old kid holding the camera (actually my iPhone), and it was so shaky that I kept waiting for a chance to re-shoot it, but I never really got the chance. So I decided that shaky video is better than no video!
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

sastpierre
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clay soil

We have clay soil here, that is extremely muddy when wet. When its dry, its hard as rock. I worked my garden when it was moist in the spring, and mixed in plenty of peat moss, mulch & play sand.

The moss & mulch keep moisture in your soil, and the sand keeps it from clumping together.

:)

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TheWaterbug
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TheWaterbug wrote:
slyguy wrote:cool. turned up any big stones yet? any tines bend or give at all?
Not yet.
Well, now I have. I just forked up some space for two Altantic Giants, and I dug these out:

Image

That's a 5 dollar bill on there, for scale. I thought those were big, and then I pried this monster out:

Image

It probably weighs more than 100 lbs. No damage to the fork at all. And my rototiller certainly wouldn't have gotten it out :D. I have to say that I like my broadfork more every time I use it.

I also extracted about a wheelbarrow full of smaller rocks:

Image

These were churned up by the tiller, and then I raked them out or extracted them by hand. What do other people do when they have a field full or rocks? It's a good thing I'm not trying to grow carrots or anything like that, here.

edit: added some notes about the fork
Last edited by TheWaterbug on Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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luvthesnapper
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They sell them. They sell by the pound, around here.

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I'll give you $4 for every rock that comes with a $5 dollar bill.

Eric

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I'll pay $4.50. :lol:

You may want to consider starting a new discussion with the question (How do I dispose of rocks from garden?) as the title of the discussion. That way more members will be likely to see it and possibly offer more answers. ;)

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rainbowgardener
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luvthesnapper wrote:They sell them. They sell by the pound, around here.
People buy rocks? :shock:

I use mine to line the paths, "mulch" around the outside of raised beds. The ones like the big one make good stepping stones or steps down all my slopes.
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sheeshshe
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I use the rocks that I dig up, to hold down the newspaper or cardboard that I put down to ward off the weeds :)
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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!potatoes!
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at first, i wondered why you used a $5 bill instead of a $1. oh, of course, 'cause it's bigger. it's for scale, after all.

i dug a few giants like that in the last place we gardened. one was a 1x2x3 foot block that ruined a good digging fork...grrr. wished i had a broader fork than i had...

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