You shouldn’t be able to see food scraps any more. SA vines aren’t sprayed, and our wines are among the best in the world : ). Water and air share this pore space. For the first 6 years of the beds I added peat moss yearly, but for past six it’s 2″ – 6″ organic matter (compost, leaf mold, chopped rotted straw or hay and/or manure), using a fork to incorporate. I just built a raised herb garden about 4′ x 20′ and 4 inches above grade. I have very poor sandy soil and I want to plant fruit trees. Ca will also improve micro porosity and improve fruit quality. When installing the sod, they actually pressure wash the soil from the sod before laying it down. When one mixes a sandy and a clay soil together, the large pore spaces of the sandy soil are filled with the smaller clay particles. Check your soil test for the base saturation % and ratio of Ca to Mg. Balancing soil nutrient ratios is the other big factor in improving clay soils next to organic matter. But before I give you all the information, what do you think of the basic idea? I have these large wine casks that were cut in half to make large flower pots.  They have always worked extremely well.  this year I decided to add some delphiniums to the mix and I looked up what additives I should use to make the soil the right mix for the delphiniums.  I was told to add sand to the soil which I did.  But the water with all of its nutrients seems to drain down so quickly that I can’t see it is doing any good.  Delphiniums are generally very fast growing plants but mine are growing at a very slow rate.  Admittedly they arrived in very poor condition and at first I was just pleased that they’d survived and were growing at all, but, now I think there must be some problem with the soil mix.  Can you advise?Scott. (baby steps). You can also add organic matter, like compost or manure, to increase the nutrients in the soil. Yes, wait until the compost is done too add it. Lots to learn, but it’s all fun! I calculate 55% clay, 18% silt, 27% sand.  We have had very good luck with 20 lb bags of alfalfa pellets obtained from the feed store and incorporated to the soil around individual plants and broadcast over the soil so they can dissolve over time. http://www.americanimpressionist.net will show what I mean. But doing this in a home organic garden is dangerous because you may create the opposite problem, which is a very waterlogged soil, or you may make a soil that is like concrete if you rototill the coarse and fine soils together. Past years I have rototilled fall and spring but this year I’m trying less tilling. How much it settles depends on how “finished” the compost is and how many coffee grinds are in there. I have a 12×12 in city garden. SOIL TEST. And just about 0% organic matter. or to clay for that matter? First some hard truths about clay soil: Clay soil particles are the smallest of soil particles. I rely on purchasing organic compost for my organic garden because, besides not having any extra room in my yard, I do not cook, therefore I have no way of producing a compost pile of my own and supplementing with veggies and fruit peels and all that good stuff that comes from the kitchen. Hi Phil, Another great article. The soil report you will receive from them will tell you how much lime needs to be added to your soil—something an at-home soil pH test from your local garden center can’t do. Mg bonds water to soils (as does Na which is even worse). You have much less damage to the field during wet weather play. If you need to bring soil into your yard in order to build your garden, you must make sure to rototill it into the existing soil extremely well. One of the most important things to take into account is the salt level of your soil. Personally, I’m not as interested in thechemistry side of things as the implications for us gardeners.All I know is that they’re both good at holding onto cations, but myunderstanding is that the honeycomb structure of (the right kind of)zeolites allows them to be added to a sandy soil without compacting. Thanks so much for the informative article. Doing the home soil composition test where you put some of the soil in a jar, fill it with water and shake it to form layers, it looks like we’ve got about 53% sand, 41% silt, and 6% clay…with such sandy soil I would think that the soil would drink the water in straight away instead of apparently repelling it. Within 2 years the St Augustine had spread thickly throughout and did very well until this year when my grape plants resulted in too much shade on that west side. Amendments in Florida soil disappear faster than free donuts at a Star Trek convention. If you bury them they stink to high heaven! You will notice that the amount of organic matter in the soil has increased and microbial activity is improving. It will help you avoid future problems of water pooling in the wrong places. As the composted soil breaks down will it make the areas we plan to sod lumpy over time? They are beautiful to paint but making one is equally challenging! But, in fact, adding sand to clay has the effect of turning soil incredibly hard and the amended area into little more than a sump, creating sodden conditions and rotting roots. Then with my post hole digger, I dug down about five feet and it was still clay. Wish I could help. To determine your soil type, just dig down about 10 centimetres and grab a handful of soil. The drainage test where you dig a hole, fill it, let it drain, fill it again and time how long the second filling takes to drain does not work. I have not had a flood since then and my plants are blooming beautifully. Someone with experience will be able to help you. They stick to the cation exchange sites. Zeolite and Bentonite are normally both derived from weathered volcanic minerals and both have excellent Cation Exchange capacity (ability to store Ammonium nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and potassium). I’m staying with some friends and they have a layer of hungry sand over a solid 50cm layer of clay that sets like concrete, so I’m looking for ways to help them. You can actually see the layers! Not the clumping kind, but the regular old cat litter. After this you will need to keep adding organic matter each year, however less and less over time. I use coffee grounds as an organic mulch. It moves downward only slightly more due to gravity. Even more interesting, if the finer soil is on extremely coarse sand or even gravel, the finer soil must become very wet before water will move down through the coarse layer. I would love to have some basil, garlic and tomatoes growing as well :0) Also, maybe some other herbs as well. Very interesting. 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