21

No, in your lifetime, normal amounts of pine needles will not measurably acidify your soil. They are somewhat acidic, and acidify soil over long periods of time, unless the soil base is extremely alkaline. They don't acidify soil more than other deciduous tree leaves, and oak leaves in particular (they have a pH of 4.5 to 4.7). Rain does leach the acid out, ...


20

A few months ago I called my local nursery to ask if they carried ammonium sulfate. He said "Oh, you want aluminum sulfate to acidify the soil for blueberries." I cringed in horror that this advice is being dispensed so regularly. Is aluminum a nutrient or do plants use aluminum in any way? Aluminum is not known to be a nutrient for plant growth in any ...


17

Legumes are often used for this purpose. From Wikipedia: Legumes are notable in that most of them have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in structures called root nodules. And Within legume nodules, nitrogen gas from the atmosphere is converted into ammonia, which is then assimilated into amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), nucleotides (...


14

What's done is done, but in future years, as others suggest, collect up the leaves and compost them separately, either in a contained heap or in binliner bags with holes in the bottom. Leaves should be wet, crammed in a binliner, the tops tied shut, holes poked in the bottom, then left in a corner somewhere to rot down over a year or so, by which time they ...


13

Clay soil is composed of extremely small clay particles formed by the breakdown of rocks by erosion and organic activity. The particles have a high surface area with the capacity to hold lots of positive ions (cations) such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium which are essential for plant growth. And it has a capacity to hold a lot of water. The ...


12

I have a similar problem in my garden. The clay soil is at least six feet deep and can only be broken up with a pickaxe or power machinery. Why? as the glaciers melted in Ontario about 14,000 to 10,000 years ago they dropped the silt (clay) in huge moraines and drifts. Post ice age plants started building soil and took thousands of years to do so. then, as ...


12

You could try seaweed which has been used as a soil additive. Just chop it up and wash it with freshwater or compost it before using. Depending on where you are you should find varieties of palm trees. The fibre found between the hard outer shell and the inner nut is also used as a soil additive. Animal manure from goats, pigs, sheep or chickens is also ...


11

Once you get below the root zone, the only thing you're affecting is drainage. How deep the root zone is varies from plant to plant; see e.g. "Root Development of Vegetable Crops". Even when taproots go very deep, you probably want to focus on where most of the root hairs are, for most of the time the plant is growing, which is of course less deep. ...


11

We amended a similar plot of dense clay on a half-acre in zone 7a in North Carolina. The main work was done by a flock of about 60 chickens. We fenced the chickens in on the half-acre, and then spread leaves over the whole area. The town public works department delivered two giant truckloads of shredded leaves (mostly deciduous) from street-cleaning to our ...


11

This reference says that you need to add prohibitive amounts of sand to remediate clay soils. And if you don't get it right, you get a soil like concrete The problems occur when sand and clay are mixed in incorrect proportions. An ideal soil has 50% pore space (with the remainder consisting of minerals and organic matter). The pore spaces in a clay ...


10

If it doesn't contain manufactured materials, plastics or anti-rot pressure treatment, burnt woody material when thoroughly consumed will leave behind the wood mineral content and charcoal. You're burning off carbohydrates, cellulose and lignins which are complex molecules of mostly hydrogen, carbon and with any protein content nitrogen. Of course all the ...


10

Good quality topsoil is probably best, preferably with some organic or humus rich composted materials added (composted animal manures, leaf mould, spent mushroom compost, garden compost, anything like that), though the latter component should only be added if you're not growing root crops like carrots, which will fork badly in manured or very rich soil. ...


9

Unless harmful elements fell into your manure during those 20 years without your knowledge, it certainly shouldn't hurt anything. It might not be as potent as properly matured and composted manure, that's all. Concerning your clay soil : don't work in your garden if it rained in the last 2 days to avoid compacting the soil.


8

Covering soil with plastic or newspapers is a common way of killing weeds in soil. You haven't ruined your soil in any way. Just do whatever you were planning. I would till the soil as little as possible. The proper way to do this is to prepare the soil for planting before covering like this. A lot of people cover their soil, kill the weeds and then ...


8

I have the same situation. For garden beds, I've had the best luck with lasagna gardening. I leave the grass in place, and cover it with several layers of cardboard and/or newspaper. I think I am well known at the grocery store as the lady who asks to raid the bin where they dump the broken-down boxes. If I have enough compostable material, I'll add that ...


8

What you need is a fast growing, fast spreading ground cover which is suitable to your environment. A suitable ground cover has the following benefits: Lock in moisture and nutrients at ground level Provide habitat for beneficial insects (think moist and decomposing versus hot dry and sandy, bugs are going to prefer to stay underground if there is little ...


8

Potassium is easily obtained via wood (or other plant material) fire ashes - "pot-ash" is the source of the name potassium (and while "potash" is now used more to refer to mined material, the ashes were the original source that the mined material is also named after.)


8

I don't know of anything ubiquitous off-hand in the kitchen that is both high in potassium and ready to use on plants without composting or some other such. Kelp is supposed to have some. So, maybe if you have kelp in the kitchen, it could work. If you have any potassium bicarbonate (used for leavening) in your kitchen, that might work, but I don't know how ...


8

I think applying gypsum or horticultural lime is an easy and effective way to loosen up clay soil. Covering pathways with wood or bark chips will alleviate compaction from foot traffic and can be tilled into the soil at some future time or not.


8

This link (10 Ingredients to Make Your Own Potting Soil) lists ten ingredients for making your own potting soil. The only thing I would add is, where it talks about compost you've made yourself, it does not make it clear that the compost should be produced using a hot, aerobic method, which will kill major pathogens and weed seeds - cold, anaerobically ...


7

They are suggesting incorporating sulfur to lower the ph of the soil. The sulfur will become sulfuric acid in the presence of water. If the soil had a ph of over 8 or you were a commercial farmer this would be a viable solution but would have to be done yearly. Your soil ph of 7.4 is not extremely alkaline. Although most vegetables prefer a ph of 5.5 to 6....


7

The mix needs to contain three basic types of ingredients: something to retain water (the peat moss in your recipe), something to provide nutrients (the compost in your recipe), and something to provide drainage (the vermiculite in your recipe). If you make a mix of just peat and compost, it may not drain well enough. Here are some ingredients that you ...


7

I do it every year and always have great vegetable gardens. If the forest does not die from leaves your garden will not. I just till then in several times over the fall and winter then have a great garden in the spring. They will build your garden soil. I collected probably 500 bags this past year (fall 2014) and will do the same this year. They are great ...


7

Leaves that have been chopped (and I am assuming this is what your mower did) can add motility but not necessarily additional fertility to garden soil. This is a good thing depending upon your soil type: humus to make the soil drain better, be a bit looser rather than compacted is good. It was long believed that leaves would raise the pH to the acid side, ...


7

I don't know how to figure out their concentration, but figuring out if you have any is easy if you're willing to be patient. Keep in mind that there are different species of Rhizobia that work with different groups of legumes (e.g. clover needs different bacteria than string beans). At the end of the growing season, carefully dig up the roots of your ...


7

I agree with @BRM about getting your soil tested. That's a good step. It sounds like you've got things backwards: using ash will raise your pH, making the soil less acidic. High pH is alkaline, low pH is acidic. If your soils are acidic (it sounds like they are), then wood ash can be a useful amendment. It varies, but if we assume that wood ash is about a ...


7

Composting is usually a layering of green high-nitrogen materials with brown high-carbon materials. Leaves tend to take longer to break down in a low nitrogen environment and work best when shredded so their breakdown is started mechanically. Also, their breakdown is best facilitated by fungal content to the heap. Why use soil/dirt in your compost? Dirt isn'...


7

Randy's given a very scientific explanation of the causes and what it means, but in simple terms, it refers to soil ph, which runs on a scale from 0 - 14, the lowest number being highly acidic, and the highest alkaline, and 7 being neutral. If your soil is acidic, then certain plants will do very well in it, things like rhododendrons, pieris, blueberries, ...


7

Hydrophobic soils repel water or absorb it weakly. The opposite term is hydrophilic.


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