Adding an acre of new soil #608393 - Ask Extension


Adding an acre of new soil #608393

Asked December 12, 2019, 11:39 AM EST

Hello, I live in Franconia and like most spots in my area, we have lots of sandy soil. I have made attempts for 3 or 4 seasons to grow a wide variety of vegetables, planting multiple fruit trees, using irrigation, trying organic weed control methods and its been an uphill battle the whole way (I took a year off in 2019 just to save my sanity). I have tried some bagged manure as soil amendments, but the results were negligible. If I am considering giving it another go in 2020, i'm going to do it with a bang. I tested the soil (over the counter type) and the numbers were "good" but i'm considering some nutrients rich amendments. Whereabouts does one go to get enough quality soil for maybe an acre's worth? Are there master gardener folks that will take a look at peoples situation and make recommendations? I have a compact utility tractor with a 55" tiller as well if that helps with the answer. Thanks, Nick

Chisago County Minnesota

Expert Response

First the easy question, regrets, Master gardeners don’t make house calls because it is more than the program can organize.  To get an acres worth of manure I can suggest contacting local farmers who have barns and ask if you can pick up the waste. Plan on adding 2-4 inches and letting it age for a season. One can’t grow plants in compost that still smells of ammonia  or urine. Poultry manure is very high in nitrogen and is good for growing corn but too strong for most other vegetables. If there is a local Craig’s list that might provide a source or you could post that you want some.
Claire Kari Replied December 12, 2019, 1:38 PM EST
Thanks for the reply Evelyn! If someone were inclined to introduce a lot of new soil, what type would be best for a large area? Topsoil, pulverized soil, compost?
The Question Asker Replied December 13, 2019, 11:03 AM EST
Top soil if you can get a soil test done before you buy it. Even if you can't it is probably the best choice but it is a gamble unless you know where it is coming from.  Unscrupulous landscapers are willing to sell sub soil as top soil. 
 Adding lots of compost every year will improve the soil over time. Compost is organic matter and it breaks down to a very thin later. 6 inches of good top soil can take 100 years to form. It is under appreciated.
Claire Kari Replied December 13, 2019, 11:23 AM EST

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