utakecare
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soil question

[img]https://img853.imageshack.us/img853/8092/p1010005y.jpg[/img] [img]https://img10.imageshack.us/img10/6628/p1010006mbe.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img16.imageshack.us/img16/1289/p1010007ze.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img577.imageshack.us/img577/5274/p1010003vx.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img814.imageshack.us/img814/5720/p1010002h.jpg[/img]

utakecare
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soil question

Above are some close up shots of my back yard soils. I thought they were clay soil, but after checking the defination, I think they are not. What kind are they?
my backyard has a 30 degree slope, there is water runoff issue. combines this soil problem, it is really hard to grow anything. What should I do? If I need a year or so to amend the soil, I do not mind but how to do it? I cannot afford to buy a lot of CMU to reshape the slope, that is a lot of labor as well. any help???[/b]

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!potatoes!
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looks like organic matter - and lots of it - would be a good first step.

utakecare
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oh, thanks for the replies. I am in San Diego and the water bill is crazy, i only water twice a week w/ about 4 minutes per zone( i have 5), the monthly fee is about $100.

so, besides compost, what else should I add? I never understand peat moss, manure, potting soil, all those different things. What are the difference and if I need to mix them together, is there a ration that I have to follow?

thanks

utc

CharlieBear
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You might start with some modification of strip mulching or lasagna gardening. That is about the only thing likely to hold moisture in the soil that won't take 30 years to happen. It looks like you have a serious erosion problem, which means that most of the top soil has washed down the hill, so it is probably also nutrient poor. You might start by planting low ground cover type plants like strawberries to help stabalize the hill. I did that on a similar slope after mulching. Water will likely always be the limiting factor. Have you considered using gray water? (water collected in buckets while you take a shower, the rince water off the clothes washing, the water you rinse vegetables and fruit with etc. I had to revert to that for some of my plants. Out west water is always a problem, not to mention the water bills, in large part because of the sewer charges.

utakecare
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Marlingardener wrote:With that kind of water bill, I can understand why you want to improve your soil for water retention!
You can add manure, but not until you are ready to plant, and that will be a while. Keep adding compost as often as you can, in any amount you can. Work it in with a hand tool, even if you just scratch the top inch or two of the soil you have. Eventually the compost will work its way down.
Peat moss is to loosen soil, but adds little in the way of nutrients. Potting soil is just that--designed for pots, so it has good drainage and is friable enough for roots to penetrate easily. I don't think you need to bother with peat moss nor potting soil. Manure will come later.
Don't plan on planting for a while, perhaps a year. Meanwhile, study up on native plants for your region. They will survive in the native soil and be less thirsty than those that are not native. With the mass of plantings being natives, you can invest the water and fertilizer needed to "baby" something else, like roses.
thanks for the detailed explanation. now i kind of understand peat moss. so all I need to do is to add compost w/o planting anything? Manure is cheap, if I add now, it won't help?

utakecare
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CharlieBear wrote:You might start with some modification of strip mulching or lasagna gardening. That is about the only thing likely to hold moisture in the soil that won't take 30 years to happen. It looks like you have a serious erosion problem, which means that most of the top soil has washed down the hill, so it is probably also nutrient poor. You might start by planting low ground cover type plants like strawberries to help stabalize the hill. I did that on a similar slope after mulching. Water will likely always be the limiting factor. Have you considered using gray water? (water collected in buckets while you take a shower, the rince water off the clothes washing, the water you rinse vegetables and fruit with etc. I had to revert to that for some of my plants. Out west water is always a problem, not to mention the water bills, in large part because of the sewer charges.
what does modification of strip muching or lasagna gardening mean? could you explain a little bit more?
exactly right, the erosion is so bad, everytime i water, the top soil just came down like crazy. they all piled at the bottom, so frustrating
for the water, i have more question, i did use some rinse vege/fruit water, but sometimes, i am afraid "dirty" water will kill the plants or encourage bacteria/fungus to grow? the shower or cloth washing water has detergent, are they still usable for gardening or you have treat them somehow?
thanks for your help

DoubleDogFarm
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UTC,

Do you have a wide angle view of the whole slope? The last picture, are those stairs to somewhere?

Eric

utakecare
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DoubleDogFarm wrote:UTC,

Do you have a wide angle view of the whole slope? The last picture, are those stairs to somewhere?

Eric
[img]https://img805.imageshack.us/img805/3003/81297949.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img542.imageshack.us/img542/7821/23241023.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img833.imageshack.us/img833/580/61475646.jpg[/img]

that is around May, after the hot dry summer, most plants are gone...so frustrating

utakecare
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Marlingardener wrote:Adding manure now won't hurt, but it won't do much good since most of its beneficial properties will be dissipated by the time you plant. That soil really needs to be improved before you invest in plants. Shortly before planting would be the best time to add composted manure (note the composted--fresh is not what you want!).
Hi Marlingardener,
your last sentense confused me. fresh compost is not what? there are different kind of compost? actually around here we have a landfill place that we can get compost for free. how i can tell if that is fresh or not?

I have no green thumb, which sucks...
thanks again
utc

DoubleDogFarm
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utc,

I'm not trying to be a pain in your backside, but I'd like to see even more of the yard. Do you have to climb a ladder to get on top? How far is the wall from the house.

Eric

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rootsy
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Terrace to control soil erosion from run-off.

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tomf
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You have a real issue, first you have high water bills so you need to use as little water as you can. The soil is very poor and rocky on a steep slope.
You could amend the soil but you would have to turn it deep. The rocks and clay are holding the soil in place so that is the one good thing.
This is my list of options.
Dig a small hole and fill it with water to test drainage. Plants need some drainage. If it drains with in a reasonable amount of time then your in luck.
You could dig holes to put plants in and fill them with good soil, dig them much biggest than the plants roots. If you make all of the soil good then you may have a problem with it washing down hill. The very best thing you can do is to put in local native plants or drought resistant plants that will thrive in a poor soil with little water.

utakecare
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DoubleDogFarm wrote:utc,

I'm not trying to be a pain in your backside, but I'd like to see even more of the yard. Do you have to climb a ladder to get on top? How far is the wall from the house.

Eric
Does it make any difference? Yeah, I have to climb a little wood ladder to get onto this slope. The wall is straight, but the house has a jog, so the distance is from 10-16'.

utakecare
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Marlingardener wrote:Well, putting it simply, fresh manure smells, is soft, and will burn plants it comes in contact with. That is why you don't want to use fresh manure. Fresh manure is straight out of the animal (horse, cow, sheep, chicken, etc.). The only fresh manure you can use is rabbit manure.
Composted manure is aged, doesn't smell, is dry, and releases nutrients without harming the plant. Chicken manure needs to age at least 6 months, horse and cow about the same, and sheep, I don't know (Texas isn't big on sheep). That's why you want composted manure.
Note I am speaking of composted manure. There are different kinds of compost, some having only leaves, wood chips, grass in it, and other that also contains kitchen scraps (which is the kind most home gardeners make and use).
I'd use the landfill compost on flowers, but not on edibles. You don't know what herbicides/pesticides the compost may contain, and there could be bits of plastic and other foreign matter in it.
cool, thanks, you are professional. I guess then the $.98 manure I can get from home depot should be composed manure, right?

utakecare
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tomf wrote:You have a real issue, first you have high water bills so you need to use as little water as you can. The soil is very poor and rocky on a steep slope.
You could amend the soil but you would have to turn it deep. The rocks and clay are holding the soil in place so that is the one good thing.
This is my list of options.
Dig a small hole and fill it with water to test drainage. Plants need some drainage. If it drains with in a reasonable amount of time then your in luck.
You could dig holes to put plants in and fill them with good soil, dig them much biggest than the plants roots. If you make all of the soil good then you may have a problem with it washing down hill. The very best thing you can do is to put in local native plants or drought resistant plants that will thrive in a poor soil with little water.
that is why I am so frustrating. i will amend my soil and then study native plants as all of you suggest.

DoubleDogFarm
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Does it make any difference? Yeah, I have to climb a little wood ladder to get onto this slope. The wall is straight, but the house has a jog, so the distance is from 10-16'.
Nope, You have a nice day!

Eric

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