Hi from New Zealand

mischief

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I think you are on the right track, adding organic matter to your soil. Everything that I've read says that adding clay is counterproductive. Clay + sand + water = cement. You might look into ordering some wine cap mushroom spawn. I bought some about 3 years ago, and they have naturalized here and there in my orchard and garden. They can be grown on wood chips, sawdust or straw.

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://www.mofga.org/portals/2/mof%26g/SON%2017/15-Wine-cap-or-king-stropharia-300x400px.jpg&imgrefurl=https://www.mofga.org/Publications/The-Maine-Organic-Farmer-Gardener/Fall-2017/Three-Mushrooms-for-the-Farm-and-Homestead&tbnid=bmu1P9Im5h3ubM&vet=12ahUKEwiuoP2zwuDlAhVRneAKHQNeD2EQMyguegUIARCnAQ..i&docid=zn0-m2V3h8ATUM&w=300&h=400&q=wine cap mushroom&ved=2ahUKEwiuoP2zwuDlAhVRneAKHQNeD2EQMyguegUIARCnAQ
I promised the person that I have been getting my mushroom bags from, that I would not grow non native species that could cross with our native ones.
I was told that the Burgandy- whatever else its called, is a native and I hope it is because I also think we need to try to keep our native plans pure....okay, that sounds a bit racist,but......if everything is mixed up with everything else I cant see how that does us any good. It might not even matter in the long run, but I see his point.

I hope this works on a lot of different levels.
Getting another layer, permaculture speaking, added to the mix.
Increasing the vitality of the soil community
Another protein source for me and Jack.
Better water retention- less waste of valuable resources
Healthier plants growing healthier crops
 

flowerbug

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I think you are on the right track, adding organic matter to your soil. Everything that I've read says that adding clay is counterproductive. Clay + sand + water = cement.
note, i said a LITTLE clay. it makes a lot of difference in small amounts.

it makes no sense to me to work to amend a garden soil that is primarily sand with organic material if most of the benefit of those organic materials will be leaching away. clay holds moisture and nutrients and it also encourages worms (the largest worm species around here will not be found in primarily sandy soil, they like some clay too).

if you've never actually done comparisons between sand and other blends i suggest you do so.
 

Lazy Gardener

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My current garden soil is sandy loam, with more sand than loam. I can tell you that by constantly adding organic matter in the form of mulch, the soil color and texture has changed dramatically. Original soil: tan in color, sandy. Now, to a depth of 8", it is very dark, and of good soil consistency.

I also have experience with heavy clay soils. My previous garden was built on heavy clay native soil. Gray, slippery clay that any potter would love to work with. After a rain, walking on it would result in it sucking my shoes off, or leaving me with a 3" sole of cement clay stuck to the bottoms of my feet. When I converted to Ruth Stout gardening on this plot, which was wet, did not get enough sunlight, and plagued by tree root invasion, I was able to get into and plant the garden about 6 weeks before my neighbors who had the same growing conditions. When the ground finally did dry out, my mulched soil did not turn into the hardened cracked cement that was evident in my neighbor's garden. Under the Ruth Stout system, my clay soil thawed sooner, did not remain water logged, did not turn to dry cracked cement in a dry summer, and was more friable.

BOTH types of soil were improved significantly with the addition of OM.

Over time, the OM added to sandy soils builds up a good matrix that stays put. But, it takes TIME, and constant addition of materials. I can't tell you how many gardens I drive by that are plopped in the middle of a home owner's lawn. The surface of those gardens sets at least 4" below the grade of the lawn. I was always perplexed by this, until a co-worker inadvertently solved the riddle for me.

She: "I'm thinking about not growing a garden next year."

Me: "Why?"

She: "It'll be too much work to get it ready next year."

Me: "What kind of work are you talking about?"

Her: "We have to take all the dead plants out this fall, and haul them to the dump. Then, we'll need to bring in loads of new dirt in the spring, and till it all up. I don't want to spend the money to haul in new bags of dirt."

That was my "AHA" moment: Fall clean up. These folks with their sunken gardens are constantly stealing from the soil, and never putting anything back.

Conversely, my garden soil has always been problematic (if you can call it that) b/c that dark rich soil spills over onto the lawn, which sits BELOW the level of the garden. I will occasionally take wheelbarrows full of soil from the garden to fill in craters left on the lawn by settling or chicken/snow plow damage. And, still, when I pilfer soil from the garden, it continues to spill over the top! I WILL NEVER REFER TO MY GARDEN MATERIAL AS DIRT! DIRT IS WHAT I SWEEP UP OFF MY KITCHEN FLOOR!

So, I can tell you that I have experience with different types of soil, and have found the addition of OM to be the answer in both cases. Yes, you can add sand to clay, or clay to sand. But, IMHO, either scenario is an expensive, laborious undertaking and does very little to improve the LIFE of the soil.

As for worms and their preference for sandy soil or clay soil: My experience has been this: They LOVE OM. In either garden, (the clay based or the sandy loam based) the worms have proliferated with the addition of OM. I've been 90% no till for YEARS, and have found that the worms abound where there is OM. When I go out in the evening, especially when the dew has settled, or it's raining a bit, the surface of the soil is CRAWLING with worms who are out doing their wormy dating rituals. Put down a mulch over either type of soil, and the worms, as well as the rest of the soil life will thank you and reward you thousand fold.
 
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mischief

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My current garden soil is sandy loam, with more sand than loam. I can tell you that by constantly adding organic matter in the form of mulch, the soil color and texture has changed dramatically. Original soil: tan in color, sandy. Now, to a depth of 8", it is very dark, and of good soil consistency.

I also have experience with heavy clay soils. My previous garden was built on heavy clay native soil. Gray, slippery clay that any potter would love to work with. After a rain, walking on it would result in it sucking my shoes off, or leaving me with a 3" sole of cement clay stuck to the bottoms of my feet. When I converted to Ruth Stout gardening on this plot, which was wet, did not get enough sunlight, and plagued by tree root invasion, I was able to get into and plant the garden about 6 weeks before my neighbors who had the same growing conditions. When the ground finally did dry out, my mulched soil did not turn into the hardened cracked cement that was evident in my neighbor's garden. Under the Ruth Stout system, my clay soil thawed sooner, did not remain water logged, did not turn to dry cracked cement in a dry summer, and was more friable.

BOTH types of soil were improved significantly with the addition of OM.

Over time, the OM added to sandy soils builds up a good matrix that stays put. But, it takes TIME, and constant addition of materials. I can't tell you how many gardens I drive by that are plopped in the middle of a home owner's lawn. The surface of those gardens sets at least 4" below the grade of the lawn. I was always perplexed by this, until a co-worker inadvertently solved the riddle for me.

She: "I'm thinking about not growing a garden next year."

Me: "Why?"

She: "It'll be too much work to get it ready next year."

Me: "What kind of work are you talking about?"

Her: "We have to take all the dead plants out this fall, and haul them to the dump. Then, we'll need to bring in loads of new dirt in the spring, and till it all up. I don't want to spend the money to haul in new bags of dirt."

That was my "AHA" moment: Fall clean up. These folks with their sunken gardens are constantly stealing from the soil, and never putting anything back.

Conversely, my garden soil has always been problematic (if you can call it that) b/c that dark rich soil spills over onto the lawn, which sits BELOW the level of the garden. I will occasionally take wheelbarrows full of soil from the garden to fill in craters left on the lawn by settling or chicken/snow plow damage. And, still, when I pilfer soil from the garden, it continues to spill over the top! I WILL NEVER REFER TO MY GARDEN MATERIAL AS DIRT! DIRT IS WHAT I SWEEP UP OFF MY KITCHEN FLOOR!

So, I can tell you that I have experience with different types of soil, and have found the addition of OM to be the answer in both cases. Yes, you can add sand to clay, or clay to sand. But, IMHO, either scenario is an expensive, laborious undertaking and does very little to improve the LIFE of the soil.

As for worms and their preference for sandy soil or clay soil: My experience has been this: They LOVE OM. In either garden, (the clay based or the sandy loam based) the worms have proliferated with the addition to OM. I've been 90% no till for YEARS, and have found that the worms abound where there is OM. When I go out in the evening, especially when the dew has settled, or it's raining a bit, the surface of the soil is CRAWLING with worms who are out doing their wormy dating rituals. Put down a mulch over either type of soil, and the worms, as well as the rest of the soil life will thank you and reward you thousand fold.
Yes!! I agree whole heartedly.
We all have soil that is local and its not all the same, but i am thinking that what our soil and our plants, be them annuals or perennials need is organic matter and I have come to the conclusion that we need to adding and literally pouring in organic carbon.
I think now that they also absolutely need mycelium- mushrooms types...and more,
We have spent so much time growing food and pretty plants without realising that what we need to be doing is growing a robust healthy soil.
I once told the nursery manager of a forestry nursery that I was working for... '99% of our work force live and work beneath our feet, we need to learn what They need to do well and perhaps then we will to'. I still think this. I dont think it has too much to do with whether you have a clay soil or a volcanic silt, like I do. Those are important variables, but are still just local.
 

Lazy Gardener

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@mischief , I think you are wise to stick with native mushrooms. I'm sure there are plenty that would do what you need them to do. I'm confident that there is a mushroom similar to our wine cap that can grow happily in a well mulched garden. I thought my wine caps were no longer, but after adding some stable bedding that was combination of fine shavings and various types of animal nuggets, the wine caps made a come back!
 
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