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  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    39
    Tractor
    John Deere 2320

    Default breaking new ground

    Have a 2320 and about an acre I want to garden and landscape. Lots of clay, and curious what best practices are to move from current to decent soil and what best steps are.

    ? bottom plow or middle buster?
    ? harrow or disc next?
    ??

    What is the best way to get there...??

    thanks, looking forward to playing in the dirt!

    Doug

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    39
    Tractor
    John Deere 2320

    Default Re: breaking new ground

    what is the best way to prep the soil and turn it over into workable soil that is plantable - would also appreciate thoughts on what to add to the soil to supplement it...THANKS

  3. #3
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    896
    Location
    Oshkosh, WI
    Tractor
    Kioti NX6010HST Cab, Bobcat 773

    Default Re: breaking new ground

    Clay soil here as well, looking at what people are going to say. My guess though is we're going to have to add some clean top soil, which will be pricey in the quantities I need

  4. #4
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    97
    Location
    Bellingham, Washington
    Tractor
    Kubota B7100, IH B275

    Default Re: breaking new ground

    Plan to add compost, and lots of it. The organic matter will lighten up the clay, probably improve drainage and fertilze. Just make sure you know where it came from (a lot of gardeners around here poisoned their gardens with compost that had residual herbicide that had been spread/sprayed on hayfields, hay fed to cows, cow manure sold or given to the composing place, then sold all over the county through various garden stores. The herbicide apparently has a half-life of something like 6 years.).

    Before you add anything other than compost (like lime, fertilizer, etc.) get a soil test. Should cost $30 or so for the test, then you can either research the results vs ideal levels yourself for what you plan to grow, or check with you local county ag. extenision office or a fertilizer supplier for interpretation and recommendations. If lime is needed, it's best to apply before tilling, else it takes a few years to affect the soil a few inches below the surface.

    As for tillage, recommendations given here are usually disc plow or bottom plow to break up the sod, then disc, harrow, or rototill to break up the clumps. It depends what's currently growing there, and if it's rocky. You mentioned clay... timing can be important so you don't get stuck in the mire you'll make if it's wet, or think you're trying to plow concrete if it's too dry.

  5. #5
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    106
    Location
    North Carolina
    Tractor
    Kubota B7800

    Default Re: breaking new ground

    I added sand and tilled in to help break up the clay. Also added organic compost two years in a row. Soil sample is a must . Clay is a crap shoot , when its wet , you may have to till or disc several times aday to dry it out for rowing up , and planting. Good luck. Steven.

  6. #6
    Elite Member gwdixon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    2,982
    Location
    Northern CA

    Default Re: breaking new ground

    Since you only want to do an acre you can really take time to work it over.
    1) Use a subsoiler, middle buster, or rakers on a box scraper to get as deep a disturbance as you can.
    2) Add plant material (compost). If you are not planting right away it can be rotted hay bales (usually cheap), straw, rice hulls, wood chips, etc. Know that such things will require adding nitrogen fertilizer. Another option is to plant pasture grass seed and let it turn into "green" manure when it is disced in.
    3) Disc the ground to work in the plant material. A rototiller implement is especially handy for smoothing things out and really breaking up / mixing the ground.

    This process may take more than one year to adequately prepare your ground. Also, the plant material will eventually break down and essentially "go away" so it needs to be replenished year after year.

    Another thing to be aware of is that going over the clay ground often will repack it so the deep disturbance needs to be done regularly. Try to go as deeply as the roots of your crop or garden will penetrate.

    That is what I've done with the clay/gravel soil around here.
    2009 Kubota M7040, R1s, LA1153 FEL, fork lift, 3 rear remotes, T&T
    2002 Kubota L48 TLB, 12", 18", 24" HD buckets
    2001 Kubota BX2200, Turf, LA211 FEL
    7.5' Howse 3PT disc, 88" Gearmore 4G4 box scraper, 4' box scraper, Gearmore GB85 blade, LandPride RCR2596 cutter, 6', 4' flail mowers, 6', 4' rototiller, 4' Bush Hog cutter, HD subsoiler, Bearcat 70554 chipper, Bush Hog PHD w/ 12", 6" augers, Ford 101 3-bottom plow, 8' land leveler, 6' rake, lots of misc.

  7. #7
    Super Star Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    11,506
    Location
    somewhere usa
    Tractor
    Deere 110tlb, 4520, x749, L130

    Default Re: breaking new ground

    Using a 2320 I think your tilling depth might be limited but plentiful use of a small subsoiler should help with this. I would use a subsoiler followed by a rear tiller to mix in the amendments.

    I agree the soil samples are the best place to start and depending on what is needed may take more than a year to get the results you need. We are all paying for the USDA county extension offices and I recommend you make use of this service.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    39
    Location
    Sparta, Illinois
    Tractor
    John Deere 2320, JD430, JD312

    Default Re: breaking new ground

    I have a new 2320 and working two gardens, each about 1/4 acre. Garden one has been composted for several years with grass clippings from the yard. This garden has clay about 10 inches below the compost. Most everything grows well and it sits on about a 5 degree slope so drainage hasn't been a problem. The Ruchter tomato plants grew about 8 feet tall last season, stalks roughly the size of a broom handle. This garden tills easy with a rear tine 4 foot tiller. Garden two is new ground that has been idle for years. No problem for the tiller, garden is as soft as a pillow and about 8 inches deep. This will be year one for garden two. Both are on clay which I believe is necessary for holding moisture to some degree, too much with no drainage is a problem. I agree with the Extension Office, they can help a lot. Subsoiler may help, probably good idea, however, it is not a deal breaker, garden will grow with or without it. Compost is great, I leave the grass clippings on all winter, in the spring when I till, the garden is moving with earth worms under the clippings. I believe the worms are beneficial and also alert me whether or not the soil is fit. Lime helps, fine ground works faster, Ag lime maybe 6 months or so. Experiment until you find what works for your location. 12-12-12 fertilizer if you think you need it and if you don't go to the Extension Office. After you get the garden in shape, commercial fertilizer may not be needed, organic gardens without chemicals are the best. If you plan on selling any produce from the garden, being organic seems to be a selling point. Good Luck whatever you decide to do.

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