[NAFEX] soil amendment - not really fruit

Mark Angermayer hangermayer at isp.com
Wed Oct 28 13:48:49 EDT 2009


I do a lot of mulching using just about anything.  It saves me from watering
in the hot summer, and I don't have to spray as much herbicide.  I don't
think it makes much difference what is used.  As long as it's organic (i.e.
carbon based), it adds organic matter to the soil and increases earthworm
populations.  I get truck loads of wood chips, but I also receive lots of
leaves and grass clippings.  I put a sign up out front, "Wanted Grass Clips,
Leaves, Chipped Wood" (Jim Fruth's idea).  We also don't throw away any
kitchen scraps, or cardboard, or worn out cotton clothing, it all gets used
as mulch.

Unless the leaves are really laid down thick, the grass seems to push up
through it.  I don't think a thin layer would affect the grass negatively,
but then again, I'm not real picky about the grass.

The only mulch I've had any problem  with is with shredded office paper.  I
put it on some garden beans real thick.  The beans that had wood chips as
mulch seemed to do slightly better than the ones paper mulched, but the
difference was only very slight.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ginda Fisher" <>
To: "NAFEX Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 3:55 PM
Subject: [NAFEX] soil amendment - not really fruit

> Apologies for a soil question regarding my lawn and ornamentals.  But
> you guys know a lot about soil, and perhaps will be kind enough to
> answer.
> I had a patio installed in my yard this summer, and the installers
> leveled some land and filled with a lot of rock dust.  They also
> compacted a lot of my soil driving the rock dust and equipment up to
> the back of the yard.  So the soil needs some work, especially the
> stuff that has a lot of compacted rock dust.
> They finished by spreading some topsoil (well, sort of) and planting
> grass.  The grass came up pretty much everywhere, but is thin in areas
> where I suspect the soil it too compacted or is shy on topsoil  I also
> planted some ornamentals (the weeping redbud you guys teased me about
> and a lot of epimedium) right around the patio.  These are already
> planted (yeah, maybe I should have amended the soil first) and the
> growing season is coming to a close.
> The area is shady, under oaks.  It's on top of a hill, and the
> undisturbed part of my soil is very well drained.  Like, we were all
> astonished at how incredibly dry the soil was when they dug the
> foundation, and when I fill a hole with water let's just say it's hard
> to actually "fill" a hole.  I marvel at descriptions of waiting an
> hour for the hole to drain.  The native subsoil is mostly a fine
> yellowish dust interspersed with varying sized chunks of granite.  The
> native topsoil is brown matted oak roots.  (only partly kidding.)
> The two obvious things I can use to amend my soil are:
> *  Oak leaves, shredded or whole (I will have a huge crop in a week or
> two)
> *  A bag of earthworm castings from "Coast of Maine"*
> I also have some compost at the bottom of the pile where I toss the
> excess leaves every year.  It's slightly enriched with vegetable
> scraps my husband dumps there.
> Do you think it would help or hurt the lawn if I spread a thin coat of
> shredded leaves over the area with poor soil?
> How deeply do you think I can mulch the epimedia and red bud with
> shredded leaves?
> Do you think the earthworm casings will help the epimedia and red
> bud?  How much would you spread?
> Any other suggestions?
> Thanks for any advice.
> Ginda Fisher
> Eastern MA, zone 6
> *  I don't think I would have bought these, but to those of you who
> remember my trouble growing tomatoes in a pot of their soil, this is
> part of my compensation from them.  They delivered replacement potting
> soil and this bag of earthworm casings by way of apologizing for my
> being misled by their labeling.
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