Organic Gardening - amending soil - ground is too hard

Can anyone tell me what I might be able to work into our soil that might loosen it up some?. The ground has been tilled. I created a row for some vegetables, planted the seed, watered and the ground is very hard and compact. I would like to stay with organic matter.
  12 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on May 25, 2013
    I suggest you get a soil test done before considering any amendments. You can probably get one at a very reasonable price through Texas A&M, via your local extension office. Tell them that you want to grow vegetables and you will get a report back letting you know what you need to add to your soil.

  • Sicilian Rose Sicilian Rose on May 25, 2013
    Thank you . I will look into that.

  • Sherrie Sherrie on May 26, 2013
    I use compost. Every time I can get it free from our recycle center I get a truck. Even after its been tilled I just put it between the rolls of plants. I also get my soil tested for free at our extension center. Need to know I am not a professional Gardner. I use Missouri Extension Center for any advice and I look up information on their sight. I am going to sign up for classes you should also have a extension in your area.

  • Sicilian Rose Sicilian Rose on May 26, 2013
    Thank you Sherrie. We sure do, i looked up the information for the local extension office yesterday and am going to try to reach someone about the soil testing.

  • Solar Flair Lighting Solar Flair Lighting on May 27, 2013
    Add compost with clean sand into the soil and mix it up a bit. The compost will enrich the soil and make it less compact, the sand will add drainage and make it looser, less likely to get hard. Also, next year, till it after the fall, and work in some leaves, garden clippings, etc. (make sure you try to keep seeds out of the mix) and this will enrich and "lighten" the soil.

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 27, 2013
    Your extension office should be able to provide you with a soil testing kit, including directions on how to use it properly. You can send it off to your state lab for testing for a nominal fee. It's $10 here in VA, but it varies from state to state. And in the mean time, you can start your own compost bin, so you will have rich organic material readily available when you need it. You can also ask your extension office what type of soil is normal in your area. Here we have "great" red clay. (Too bad we can't all make pots with the stuff). It may be hard pan, which is more normal in the western states. When you know the type of soil you're deal with, it makes it easier to determine if you need additional minerals etc to encourage good production.

  • Sicilian Rose Sicilian Rose on May 27, 2013
    Thank you Catherine. I checked the website for our local extension office and it looks like it is only $10 here also. I am looking forward to sending in a sample and seeing what the results are. I started a compost pile about 2 months ago. I need to do some research to find out if I will be able to use it in the Fall or not. It mainly consists of leaves and kitchen scraps (coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit and vegetable peelings, etc.).

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 28, 2013
    Glad to hear your soil tests are also reasonably priced. :) I see no reason why you can't compost year round, especially in Tx, which runs between 6b and down in the hardiness zones. We do it here in VA and we're in 7b. I prefer a "hot" pile, but we have 4 bins, so normally, we have a couple just kinda sitting there, doing their thing. My "hot" pile takes a little more effort in the cold, but is well worth it. :) You can compost almost anything, except grease and meat.

  • Sherrie Sherrie on May 28, 2013
    We get it free in my community. Since I hadn't gardened for a few years I add compost all year long. And in the winter I just let it sit on top of the soil and till it later.

  • Sicilian Rose Sicilian Rose on May 28, 2013
    That sounds like a good idea.

  • Sicilian Rose Sicilian Rose on May 28, 2013
    I contacted our extension office today and should be receiving the form and envelope later this week to submit a soil sample.

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 29, 2013
    WTG, Rose :)