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longgone's avatar

Gardeners: Could soil be improved by adding fruit and vegetables?

Asked by longgone (16605points) September 7th, 2019

We’re trying to turn a patch of our clay-heavy backyard into a vegetable garden. Right now, we have lots of plums and apples that are falling from the trees, large amounts inedible.

Would it help to directly incorporate those? As in, just dig them into the ground at the spot? Or do they absolutely need to spend time in a compost bin first?

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9 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Clay heavy soil needs sand and compost.

Planting fruit trees by putting seeds in the ground is what will happen if you throw the rotting fruit in the soil.

SmashTheState's avatar

It depends. Without composting, the result of burying organic material is going to be largely random. You’re going to have a war between various molds, bacteria, insects, annelids, and rodents for supremacy, and which one wins will determine whether you end up with a slimy, festering hellscape, a cratered wasteland full of rat dens, or black fertile soil.

longgone's avatar

That’s unfortunate. I thought I was onto something.


snowberry's avatar

Most fruit is full of water. The actual organic matter, minus water will be much less.

When I was growing up our house had heavy clay soil. Dad dug a huge trench and filled it with all the leaves on our property (we’re talking a lot of leaves). He sprinkled lime through it, and covered it with the clay from the hole. It sat all winter. One cold day Dad went out and took the temperature in the center of his “compost heap” it was almost boiling! The next year he spaded it up, and the soil was much better.

You could try doing the same, and use all the leaves and fruit you can find (don’t be shy about asking the neighbors). Don’t forget the lime!

LadyMarissa's avatar

@longgone You’re not that far off. Do a search on youtube for “Trench Composting” then pick the ones that catch your eye. The heat from the underground composting kills off the seeds so you don’t get a fruit tree orchard. I haven’t tried it yet, but the “Drunken Composting” guy makes some sense to me. Coffee grounds are very good for enriching your soil faster than doing nothing. I saw one guy last year that buried his garbage in holes next to his garden soil & he moved around the area where he planted & moved where he buried his garbage. He said it only took him a couple of years to have very rich growing soil. I don’t remember the name he used & I didn’t see it in my quick search this evening. IF I find it later, I’ll be back to let you know. I think that once you bury it that you give it time to decompose & give the worms time to mix it up for you & then you come back to mix the newly formed compost into the clay soil. Not going to lie, it requires some work; but if it’s worth having, it’s worth the work!!!

seawulf575's avatar

I agree with @Tropical_Willie. I lived in an area that had a lot of clay soil for years. The best way to get it to be better soil was to till it up, till in a bunch of sand and compost and start with that. Over time it will help break up some of the clay.

SmashTheState's avatar

There’s also certain vegetables that are happy as a pig in shit in clay soil, and which will help to break it up. Potatoes and carrots in particular are good (though you’d want to grow the smaller varieties of carrots). The nice thing about potatoes is they require no work at all. They send out their own rhizomes which will help break up the clods, and while you won’t get a bumper harvest, you also won’t have to do anything but dig them up when they’re ready.

Inspired_2write's avatar

My late mother who grew up in hard times and on a farm planted potatoes the first year

to break up the clay..they left about a quarter of those potatoes in the ground and by the

next year the lay was broken up and the soil was rich for planting other crops.

longgone's avatar

Thanks. This has been much more informative than I was anticipating!

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