Soil test

llvonn Posts: 18 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Soil Remediation & Reclamation

Late last year I got a reams soil test done for my backyard. It had been full of weeds and had just been cleared. To prevent the weeds coming back I put down a layer of cardboard and some mulch. The chickens have been free ranging in the backyard. I was not able to get a garden started over the summer, we are heading into the winter now, so I am planning to get stuck in and ammend the soil ready for spring. On the plus side, chickens are really good at dispersing mulch. We ended up dumping the mulch and let them do the work spreading it.

Anyway, the results of the soil test is below. Comments welcome


  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    My first comment from reading your results is forget planting and give yourself a year to amend your soil's quality. Because of all the problems you currently have, you will get frustrated and depressed because you are not going to have a productive harvest.

    So if you must plant, just as an emotional healer, use this next upcoming garden season and plant inside a few planters some of your favorites.

    Then use the rest of this season up until the next garden season to get your soil started on the road to being amended. The easiest and fastest I would say is first get it tilled (if it is not already). If you have a small garden area and can do it by hand that is even better because you don't want to kill off any of the remaining microbial activity you do still have in your soil.

    Once the garden soil is tilled, get some good organic compost, ideally from a local organic farmer if you can find one. Top off all the garden area (don't waste your money on adding it to walkways) and add at least 3" or more to every bed. Let your chickens have the run of the garden all season long as their manure alone will be a wonderful amendment also. If you also can get some worm castings and biochar, stir these in also. Then at the end of your next normal garden season add another 3" or more of compost. Plant some good cover crop for your area in the Fall, ideally a variety which has a winter kill capability and then you can use that also in the early Spring to work into your soil.

    By the time you run thru this program of adding good compost, chickens using your "farmland" for their grazing area, worm castings and biochar and a good cover crop, most of those problems shown on your soil test will be well on their way of taking care of themselves. Then you can start the beginning of your Spring garden with some more good compost and start seeding and planting away. You should be having a very productive harvest season that year as long as you maintain adding good amendments to your garden's soil as the rest of that year and future harvests come along.

    What I mean by that if you do not understand what I am talking about, every time I harvest anything, before I replant something else, that entire area gets topped off with fresh compost again.

    My soil doing this has went from being hard as a rock, to being wonderful beautiful soil which yields me some great harvests,

    Good luck with it!

  • llvonn
    llvonn Posts: 18 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the comment. I'm lucky. I live close to an organic dairy farm, I have a friend who makes biochar and I have lots of chicken manure. I will be adding some organic fertiliser, it has pragmatic rock dust, phosphate rock, vermicast, seaweed as well as trace minerals. I just need to figure out where I will put my beds.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @llvonn are you going with raised beds (a frame filled with soil) or in-ground?

    Either way, if possible, try to stay on the south side of your property and run the beds North-South because your garden will get the most and longest amount of sunlight each day this way. That works unless you are in a hot climate zone and then if high temps will become a problem, you will have to factor in some sunshade for the crops which don't appreciate high temperatures.

  • llvonn
    llvonn Posts: 18 ✭✭✭

    I plan to go in ground. My property is on old riverbed. Good soil, just has a fair bit of rock in it. I'm also in so the positions are reversed - north is the sunny side down here. I have my orchard to the South with cherries in the shadiest location. I have quite a few trees to plant, still trying to figure out where, for some of them. We are classed as temperate, and we are coming up to winter. We get regular frosts, but only get snow maybe once every 20 years. It will be much easier to dig in winter.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @llvonn then you should be lucky enough you can grow a four seasons garden if you like.

    With a temperate third season and lack of harsh winters, grow many of your root crops coming up to the end of your year and then just store them underground. You can dig up and harvest all winter long.

    Good luck with your plans.

  • Hassena
    Hassena Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    The chickens will certainly help add nitrogen to the are.

    Consider a cover crop for early spring. Then weed eat it down before it seeds. If the soil was full of weeds. I'm surprised that the nitrogen was low. Maybe because the soil is slightly acidic?

    Happy growing.

  • Elizabeth Voss
    Elizabeth Voss Posts: 57 ✭✭✭

    Just want to say thanks to everyone for their conversations above- i have learned just hearing your stories of cover crops, root crops, tilling, biochar, thanks everyone!

  • John
    John Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    A lot of knowledge dispensed here and I learned a lot. Thanks to all.