Gal in the Garden Series – Working with “dead” top soil..

It looks so pretty.. that big huge mound of top soil.. so black and rich!

Two loads of 10 tons each have arrived on the farm this year so far.. and its easy to work with, its good quality top soil.. and let me tell you compared to the 99 cent “black soil” in the bags, its for sure much higher quality.

Having said that..  compared to healthy soil.. its pretty much dead..

Not a worm, not a bug, not a seed to be found in it..

At least things want to grow in it.. seeds sprout really well from it..

Having said that..

  1.  It has no holding power in regards to moisture.. water flows though it like nothing I have seen..  It dry’s out fast.. it needs ground cover, it needs bulk and lift. Some beds are getting straw cover, some beds are getting wood mulch cover and some beds are getting wool covers.. All of them have the same purpose.. help keep moisture in.. and start giving things a place to start in getting some life to these soils.
  2. They all need a layer of compost added to them and worked in..  This fall all the gardens need a at least two inches of compost added to them and lightly turned in and then turned in a again in the spring..  (The pototo garden and the corn garden’s are the different ones here.. the corn garden is going to get compost added as a side dressing earlier this year and then it will get turned in after harvest time. The potato garden will get very rich soil used for hilling up that will then be dug in with just a light rabbit manure top up)
  3. Where does that leave me right now.. backfilled with clayish sub soil.. dead but fluffy and pretty is as pretty does top soil..  Lots and lots of compost tea’s..  Comfrey leaves, nettle tea’s, manure tea’s.. in certain area’s light layers of rabbit poo..
  4. Small amounts of living soil moved over into tiny pockets in the gardens to “seed” the soil
  5. Cover crops.. green cover crops.. a lot of area’s have been covered with clover blend, these will be cut very high with a mulching blade to put it all back to the soil for composting in place.

I can see that it will take me a couple years at a min to turn this new soil into fully alive working soil that is top of the line.

What about you.. have you started with poor soil or “dead” top soils or working with sub soils and needed to work with them to create a living soil?  Got any tricks? Tips?  Got a favorite cover crop? Got a favorite Mulch?


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5 Responses to Gal in the Garden Series – Working with “dead” top soil..

  1. angela says:

    I am experimenting with adding ramiel wood chips and inoculating new plants with a mycorrizhal root booster and worm castings.

  2. It’s a wonderful way to spend time, strolling past the lovely old homes in Town, “ooing and ahhing” over amazing gardens full of plants you’d never see in a garden centre. Then in the Fall (with the home-owner’s permission, of course!) I like to bring home brown paper bags full of leaves; where they’ll sit and compress (depending on the year perhaps needing a slight dampening first) just waiting for Spring to be shaken out as slightly composted flakes. It’s “window shopping” at its best, when those bagged up leaves could contain treasured hitch-hiking seed: )

  3. It sounds and looks like your topsoil has been sifted (over and over:/) and sterilised to boot… Luckily it landed in your yard and will actually get the chance to live again!: )

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