anaerobic soil

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Barry
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anaerobic soil

Postby Barry » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:54 pm

Several of us have found that parts of our plots have soil that actually smells really quite bad, which seems to be because they have been habitually saturated.

From what somebody told us, this is anaerobic soil.

Can anybody tell me in simple terms what this is and what we should be doing to have normal soil?

Thanks.
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dan3008
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Re: anaerobic soil

Postby dan3008 » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:13 pm

anaerobic literally means without air.
anaerobic soil is more commonly called Hydric soil so searching for that may help too

Sadly, I dont know of a lot that can help "cure" Hydric soil, and nothing is quick. That said, there are 3 things you can do that will help but will take a couple of years (maybe longer).
Firstly, you need to fix whatever is causing the water logging. This could mean redirecting a water channels, making a French drain, or something as simple as digging in sand to aid drainage
Incorporate organic matter, or compost to its friends. A well aired compost dug in will add a lot of air to the soil and will help no end.
Finally, you may want to scarify regularly and double dig every year or so


I would dig out to a min of 3' and put 6" of gravel and back fill with a mix of soil, sand and compost. Riddle it back into the hole and you should have ok soil this year, and good soil in 2-3 years
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Ricard with an H
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Re: anaerobic soil

Postby Ricard with an H » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:02 am

So much for, "No-dig" methods then.

I still have this vision of my brother, who was a keen gardener, always digging. Since I lived here the annual farm routine would be that the plow comes in March to dig-in whatever they spread on the land and whatever remains from the last crop, the exception being land for grazing.

Every winter we get lots of rain, the rain consolidates the soil and it seems natural to loosen it rather than just pull the weeds out and plant new crops.

As Dan suggests, lots of organic matter and some grit helps. I'm also wondering about perlite or vermiculite. I just had a fiddle with the various soils in different raised beds, certainly the oldest bed with the most attention paid to organic matter and grit has not consolidated in the same way as beds with less attention to drainage.

When I joined this forum I had just started kitchen gardening and more serious gardening in-general. The one irritating piece of advise I would read over and over again was for soil that is well drained but moisture-retentive. I thought it was a joke but it is doo-able.
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Pawty
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Re: anaerobic soil

Postby Pawty » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:21 am

As Dan says, your soil has no oxygen and has become stagnant - bit like a pond which has nothing to move the water around. Assume it also smells a bit eggy?

I am no expert, but you need to change the conditions to introduce oxygen - turn it over and add a load of manure - you want to get in the bugs that naturally increase the oxygen conditions.

Unfortunately, if it always gets boggy this will be a constant problem, so you will need to keep repeating or get better drainage.... Probably not what you wanted to hear!

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Ricard with an H
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Re: anaerobic soil

Postby Ricard with an H » Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:00 pm

As if for the benefit of this conversation, yesterday I had to tackle a lot of preparation to my raised beds one of which had-had home made compost added in just one end of an eight foot bed. The difference between the two ends certainly help illustrate to me the importance of organic matter and whilst the heavy end did produce good crop last year it was hard work breaking-up the consolidated soil and I imagine it was close to stagnant.

With the compost included end I could pull weeds out by the root without tools.
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