[nafex] Soil Amendments

Don Yellman dyellman at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 1 17:50:39 EST 2001

For Tom Olenio:

    Whatever amendments you put on your gravel, I don't think tilling in
fresh stuff is a good idea.  Organic materials will break down into
humus much faster on the surface, where they have access to oxygen and
moisture.  Burying them will slow this process, and actually rob
nitrogen from your gravel/soil.  After a year or so the humus will be
ready to till.  Decomposing organic materials on the surface will also
stimulate earthworm activity underneath.
    I don't think there is any particular ratio to follow in improving
poor, humus deficient soils.  I put 35-40 pickup loads of stable manure
from local horse farms on the garden, beds, and around the trees
throughout every fall and winter, and just haul until I get tired or run
out of time.  Every year it seems like I get tired a little sooner.
    Leaves are not one of my favorite soil amendments, and I usually
grind them up in place right on the lawn with a large mower.  But I like
horse manure just fine, and would use cattle manure also if I could get
it.  Chicken manure is my all-time favorite, but I would have to travel
too far to find it.  I also use all the grass clippings that I can
obtain, but again leave them on the surface until they break down.
    Building soil is a multi-year proposition.  Even with large amounts
of stable manure, I did not start to notice real improvement in my soil
until about the 3rd year.  Six inches of stable manure will break down
to less than an inch of black humus, but it's still worth it.  Now I
have nice black soil over a foot deep in some places.

Best Rgds, Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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