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Sun Dec 11, 2011, 05:19 PM

 

Bad soil? Easy way to make it better (organic technique).

Plant radishes and lettuce about every month. You won't get much produce in the winter months (although you could be surprised), but both produce wide fibrous root systems (especially lettuce) and that builds the "fluff" of organic material. I did that with rock and sand in NH and did it with clay and shale in PA. Both gardens reached the point of "just put a shovel in it" within 5 years. The seeds are cheap.

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Reply Bad soil? Easy way to make it better (organic technique). (Original post)
HopeHoops Dec 2011 OP
JDPriestly Dec 2011 #1
dmosh42 Dec 2011 #2
HopeHoops Dec 2011 #3
Kolesar Dec 2011 #4
dmosh42 Dec 2011 #5
Kolesar Dec 2011 #6

Response to HopeHoops (Original post)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 09:24 PM

1. Thanks. Just a few inches from what should be topsoil, I have clay so thick, so solid that when I

first discovered it, I thought it was rock.

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Response to HopeHoops (Original post)

Tue Dec 13, 2011, 01:07 PM

2. I grow buckwheat in my rows after any crops.

Buckwheat leaves some nice humus once it breaks down, plus seems to inhibit weed germination. It doesn't leave much nitrogen like soybeans, so I plant crimson clover right next to it. Once the buckwheat flowers, you can turn it over, or, what I do, is let the seeds grow until it appears black and pointy to the feel. Then I pick those seed heads for the next batch, which might be late summer or early in the Spring.

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Response to dmosh42 (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 13, 2011, 01:20 PM

3. Ah - the breath of someone who knows about cross-planting.

 

Excellent choice.

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Response to dmosh42 (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 13, 2011, 03:12 PM

4. Buckwheat seedheads--I never let the buckwheat get that mature

but that sounds like a great idea.

Did the seedheads dry nicely on the plant, or did you have to tend them somehow?

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Response to Kolesar (Reply #4)

Tue Dec 13, 2011, 04:13 PM

5. Easy-to-manage seeds!

When those little white flowers have been on for a few weeks, you'll notice the black seeds starting to show. At first the seeds seem to be a brown, and flat, but let them be, and then a couple weeks later you can feel them somewhat expanded with pointed edges. I wait and let them get quite a few seeds on each head, and then I scrape the head with my fingers and the seeds roll right off. No processing. Put them in a bag, and if it's only mid-summer, you can start planting them again right away if you have rows that would be ready, otherwise, I put them in a paper envelope until I need them. Also, when you pick them, you'll be getting flower debris and other particles. If you want to filter them out, put them in a plastic bucket with a few inches of water, and the usable seeds will stay on the bottom, and pour off the rest. When you get your first packet of seeds, you'll see what I mean by the points, then you'll be self-sustaining. Once the seeds are picked, I usually take my hoe and go down wherever I planted the buckwheat and turn it over, or into the soil. If I'm going into the winter, then I let them stay and be winterkill, but will hold the soil until the Spring. Also, not hard to pull out.

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Response to dmosh42 (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 13, 2011, 06:32 PM

6. Great writing--thanks

I am not one for saving seeds (yet). I buy my tomato plants since I don't have time to start them under lights. I should save squash seeds, that would be easy.

I am growing crimson clover for this first time this year. I planted them in the raised beds in September. I expect them to overwinter then take off in early spring.

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