poor soil

Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:13 pm

Hi guys, I have a question for you. I relocated this year, and tilled up my yard for a garden, the drainage is horrible, nothing is growing to well , seems to hold to much water in the soil, my question is what can I add to help get better drainage other than compost. I thought of tilling in shreaded bark mulch, adding mushroom manure, what do you think I can add to help with the drainage problem
thank you
Jack

Re: poor soil

Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:36 pm

Sand, more humus. Actually more information needed, slope, soil type, etc..

I put in plastic drain tile and french drains to reduce, eliminate, wet spots on son's house property.

I put in french drains in the west end of son's garden which was always wet. The french drains lead to the plastic drain tile. French drains will lead soil moisture away from the desired area.

Re: poor soil

Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:23 pm

my ground is level, soil looks nice but drains poorly, this whole area seems to have the same problem with drainage. I plan on having a soil test done on it

Re: poor soil

Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:34 pm

Suggest visiting your local US Dept of Ag office and then the University Extension office. The USDA will be knowledgeable about local soil conditions and can probably make suggestions.

Re: poor soil

Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:20 pm

Tilling in bark mulch will tie up nitrogen, as the bacteria that break it down, use nitrogen. What is the history of the property. Sometimes a hard pan layer develops, at the plow depth. (If it was farmed for a long time) Sub soil plow will break that up. I have clay soil, and organic matter, and cover crops, improve it. The mushroom compost would help, as would composted manure, of any type.
You need a soil test, as a starting point, for nutrient levels.
Ed

Re: poor soil

Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:49 pm

I dont know if has been farmed in the past. I would say it is clay soil, it rained this afternoon, and when I took the dogs out this evening, water was still laying in the garden

Re: poor soil

Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:22 pm

Might investigate forage or tillage radish. I'm currently seeding the radish in the upper portion of my garden which has considerable clay content. The radish root bores deep holes in the soil. The holes carry nutrients deeper into the soil and the tops form a nice mat. The tops, the mat, can be tilled in for humus.

Something else you might consider is french drains and french wells.

Just throwing out ideas.

Re: poor soil

Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:41 pm

Jack,

Eugene has given you some sound advice about drainage and local sources of information. I would suggest that you start here:
Penn State Extension
668 Elm Street, Suite C
Tionesta, PA 16353-8802

Contact
Phone: 814-755-3544
Fax: 814-755-3960
ForestExt@psu.edu
Office Hours
Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

PSU Extension can point you in the right direction for information in addition to what they have.

As for adding materials to your garden plot, in some cases it will work well, over time, in other cases it will not. Taking what you have said about your garden plot drainage problem, I envision a fairly level area that you tilled up in some manner and planted a few things. After a rain the garden stays wet for a long period of time.

The tilling has, in effect, created a "cereal bowl" with no outlet. You can add soil amendments to the bowl and not materially improve the drainage until you let the water out. That is where subsurface drainage works well. Eugene is right on target with his suggestions as possible ways to get the water drained away. This is a gross simplification of the many factors affecting drainage, however, it serves as a starting place.

Bill

Re: poor soil

Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:23 am

ScottyD'sdad wrote:Sometimes a hard pan layer develops, at the plow depth. (If it was farmed for a long time) Sub soil plow will break that up.
Might check with farmers in your local to see what they are doing with drainage problems and perhaps some history on your property.

If the area surrounding your property is fairly level, good bet the property has been "farmed" for a considerable length of time, perhaps 250 to 300 years.

Re: poor soil

Fri Jun 27, 2014 5:58 am

I would like to thank all of you for your responces, you gave me very valuable information, and this fall I think I will install french drains, and have my soil tested in the mean time. Again thanks guys you been very helpful

Re: poor soil

Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:48 pm

I made raised beds out of 2x12 x8 rough cut, this spring, and have my strawberries , asparagus, and rhubarb in those and they are doing great. I know the pine wont last long, so what do you guys think of using treated 6x6 for raised beds? I want to go with all raised beds next season because of my drainage problem

Re: poor soil

Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:39 pm

I would use untreated lumber. It will rot out after a few years. It's not that expensive to replace.

http://www.finegardening.com/are-pressu ... arden-beds

Re: poor soil

Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:48 pm

Spread several loads of good fill over the garden and work it in good with plow/subsoiler/tiller/etc. then get tile working under there! -----If its that level then you have a perfect site for reverse tile system!!---that is the way I would go! then you could control the sub-soil water yourself the year around! thanks; sonny

Re: poor soil

Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:37 am

SONNY wrote:Spread several loads of good fill over the garden and work it in good with plow/subsoiler/tiller/etc. then get tile working under there! -----If its that level then you have a perfect site for reverse tile system!!---that is the way I would go! then you could control the sub-soil water yourself the year around! thanks; sonny


Sonny, what do you mean by getting tile under the soil
thanks Jack

Re: poor soil

Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:31 pm

Use common slotted plastic field tile, either 3" or 4"!---lay out your garden and install these laterals 5 or 10 foot apart, or closer.---on the ends, hook them to main cross tile,--at the corners run them into catch basins so you can use a pump to get the water down to the level that you want!---drought period, you can dump water into the basins and have control of your subsoil moisture all year!
I have installed one of them as a test and they do really work!---just make sure that you put them in level!
Hope you understand the concept here,--- kinda hard to explain it but I think you get the idea! thanks; sonny