stevef22
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10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

Hello everyone, nice to be at this forum. Many great gardeners here!

I have just received 10 yards of soil for $175.00 delivered! Isn't Craigslist such a great place to find good deals?

The 10 yards easily covered half my two car driveway - delivered by a dump truck no less.

At first look soil was a dark black color. A recent rain in south Texas area so soil was still a little clumpy and very heavy, very black in color. No worries I though.

The gentleman who sold me the soil explained soil came from Floresville Texas. This was good "farm top soil" and had been used on farms. Also, this soil is the same other nurseries use around town and has little or no rocks in it.

He was right about the rock content, it has little or no rocks, maybe shovel or two worth of small white rocks out of 99 wheel barrows it took to move 10 yards.

After moving the 99 wheel barrows into my garden the Texas heat has quickly dried out the soil. It has become rock hard and lost a little dark color. Appears very anaerobic and devoid of organic matter. I have since put about 40 bags of Texas Oak leaves on top and tilled into soil to try to introduce organic matter.

However with no water ( Texas has been very dry ) and a short amount of time, I now have little clumps of soil with leaves. Not the enriched, fluffy, soft and wonderful garden soil I had hoped for. Not possible for planting because the soil is still rock hard mixed with leaves. I don't think roots can penetrate the soil.

So here are my questions I need help with...

1. Should I test soil for toxicity / lead / contaminants? What would you do? Were do you get your soil tested? What are top 5 contaminants you would test for ( I know specific pesticides and toxins can be easily $50 each. )
This soil could be from anywhere in South Texas.

2. What type of soil do you think I have? If from Floresville Texas... Think they grow peanuts, Millet, Sorgum, Corn town there.

3. How would you amend this dense dark soil? Tree clippings?

4. Please see pictures of soil. These little termite things are very abundant. They are slightly yellow and 100th size of my fingernail? What are these guys? No worms in soil, its much too dense.


Here is a link to pictures on dropbox.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/08k2wyytkhxa ... JOzja?dl=0


Future steps for me: Instead of 10 yards of dense crappy soil. I plan to get 4-5 yards of proper garden soil from my local nursery. But even then ... they sometimes add "bio-solids" to soil to amend it. Who knows what that even means. Human feces? lol

Just a new gardener here needing help, Thanks again for your help.

Steve

j3707
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

I would pay for a soil test: nutrient and metal levels. Beyond that, building up the soil will take time. Mix in as much organic matter like leaves and compost as you can. You might even want to grow cover crops for the first year and till everything back into the soil.

If you buy a blended soil from a nursery, ask them what's in it. They can give you the sources and answer questions. If they can't, look elsewhere.

*I have used UMass for soil testing https://soiltest.umass.edu/services
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MichaelC
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

I second the suggestion of cover crops. My soil started off fairly lousy, hard clay. After my first summer garden, I heavily seeded and grew vetch, rye and fava beans.
10582843_10152988520235926_646015903482230041_o.jpg
After mowing this down and tilling it in, along with some amendments like Arctic humus, the soil was much superior the second summer.

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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

I think you should have it tested for heavy metals, hazardous waste kind of stuff. If you were scammed into buying hazardous waste, then you would need a lawyer because it is illegal. Let's hope that is not the case. The Dept of Health should have some sort of guidelines. And the EPA. The dirt in those pictures does not look like nice garden soil to me. Find out what you bought before you get in any deeper.
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jal_ut
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

My guess is your soil is fine. Go plant some squash and tomatoes. Enjoy! Add some organic matter as you have it available. All this talk about getting tests for this and that........ I have gardened for many years and have never had a soil test done. I guess you can toss someone a bundle of money to do a test to tell you that you need some nitrogen? I can tell you that without a test. Farmers and gardeners from all over have been adding nitrogen forever. Its a given.
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

I think a soil test is a good place to start. It looks like it is a sticky soil. It would help if you can identify the soil serries. A basic soil test does not cost much from the local extension service. Testing for contaminants will cost a bit more.
The basic soil test will give you pH and major nutrients and recommmendations for fertilizer.

Usually if you have a heavy clay soil, you don't want to work it when it is wet. It will affect the soil texture negatively for a long time.

If you tilled in oak leaves that was not composted you will need to add extra nitrogen, but instead of dried leaves adding compost would be better. it adds organic matter but finished compost will not compete with the plants as much as uncomposted leaves and it will improve soil tilth. Ideal loam is one part clay, one part sand and one part organic matter. When you get your soil test back you can ask how much organic and how much drainage material is in it. Your picture looks like it has some minerals in it so it looks like it is a sandy loam. It may not be that bad. Those types of soils have a lot of organic matter in them from pasturelands but they also have clay. It can be a very good basis for growing things.
It also is sticky like clay and clay should not be worked when it is wet.
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stevef22
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

Thanks everyone for your great advice! I will amend with compost and possibly coarse sand. Ive heard fine sand can actually make problem worse and turn this into CEMENT.

:P


Does anyone have a good lab for soil testing. Probably going to do a basic heavy metal (lead) test.

Are termite looking bugs normal in soil?

Here is a link to pictures on dropbox.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/08k2wyytkhxa ... JOzja?dl=0

imafan26
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

You can go to the university extension service office or master gardeners closest to you. Texas A&M has an excellent extension service. You can also go to the county extension service offices but call first. Extension agents are often out on the farms. You can go to the master gardener office nearest you, but you should call to find out the hours and location. They will tell you where to bring the soil samples.
https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galv ... r-Soil.pdf
You can ask a question here and find out where your nearest extension service or master gardener office is.
The grubs in your soil are normal in the sense that they will be there but they are usually beetles or other pests you don't really want. If you take it down to the extension office they can identify the grubs and tell you if they are harmless or how to manage them.

https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/contact/

I would hold off on adding anything else until you get the soil report. The soil needs to dry out, the more you work wet soil the worse it gets. If your soil is a sandy loam you may not need more sand.
This is the Smith county master gardener office. If you call them they may be able to tell you if there is an office closer to your location.
https://txmg.org/smith/
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Mr green
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

jal_ut wrote:My guess is your soil is fine. Go plant some squash and tomatoes. Enjoy! Add some organic matter as you have it available. All this talk about getting tests for this and that........ I have gardened for many years and have never had a soil test done. I guess you can toss someone a bundle of money to do a test to tell you that you need some nitrogen? I can tell you that without a test. Farmers and gardeners from all over have been adding nitrogen forever. Its a given.
Same thing here and my soil used to be very similar to OP's soil looks like heavy clay soil. Root crops work best to start with in my opinion on this kind of soil, will help "poke" holes in the dirt and will give you another tilling when you harvest. also adding organic materials on top in form of mulch and you will soon have worms working it into the soil they appear quicker than you might think.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished - Lao Tzu

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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

I would say maybe question the gentleman who delivered the soil to you more specifically as to exactly where it came from, (if he wants to tell you) then maybe go there yourself and see. If it's near some waste plant or industrial complex maybe worry about it then.

Maybe ask the nurseries around town who supposedly use the same thing if his story sounds plausible.

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feldon30
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

The problem with having soil delivered is you have NO IDEA what this stuff is. I know a few will say "don't worry be happy" and just plant, but this really could be anything. It could be toxic. It could have the wrong pH. It could be full of weed killer (a real problem in Texas if this is spent soil from cotton fields). I would absolutely get it tested.

I am currently trying to acquire just 3 cubic yards of soil and there are soil yards nearby, but how do I know what they are selling is not total crap? :( I wish there was some kind of optional certification board.
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HoneyBerry
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

I thought about this some more. This is a big load of dirt, and the dump truck was big, so it seems like the dirt might be from a construction project. Perhaps the contractor had the dirt tested already. They are required to follow EPA and Health Dept regulations. You could contact the dirt seller and ask some specific questions about the dirt and see what kind of response you get.
If you discover that there is something wrong with the dirt, if it turns out to not be good farming soil like what you were told by the seller, there should be a way to file a consumer complaint at the state level through the Attorney General's office.
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Mr green
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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

feldon30 wrote:The problem with having soil delivered is you have NO IDEA what this stuff is. I know a few will say "don't worry be happy" and just plant, but this really could be anything. It could be toxic. It could have the wrong pH. It could be full of weed killer (a real problem in Texas if this is spent soil from cotton fields). I would absolutely get it tested.

I am currently trying to acquire just 3 cubic yards of soil and there are soil yards nearby, but how do I know what they are selling is not total crap? :( I wish there was some kind of optional certification board.
Well thats a chance, spent farming soil usually is just dust or clay. But the guy that delivered the clay must be able to tell were it came from, if he is serious.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished - Lao Tzu

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Re: 10 Yards New Garden Soil. Toxic? / Amend Recommendations

No, the termites in the soil are not normal. In the picture where you are holding the single clump you can see the back end of the queen in the middle.

Looks to me like incompletely broken down wood mulch compost which was way too wet when delivered. It won't break down any more until it gets wet again.

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