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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:47 pm
Posts: 2
After 40 years away from gardening - I grew up on 9 acres in Maryland, about 7 acres of which were garden - I've started a small garden in the back yard. We live in North Dallas, lots of black gumbo.

I am really focusing on next year, although we have canteloupes that sprang from the compost we spread on the new rised garden and some tomatoes and squash and herbs.

I have scoured the neighborhood for bags of grass clippings and leaves. A local tree trimmer dumped a ton of tree mulch on the driveway. I have dug up small sections of the yard and filled in the holes with layers of leaves, dirt, glass clippings, dirt, and wood chips. Everything that is growing is surrounded with mulch, which I learned from my mother.

Next year, we will be a bit more formal and I have large sections of the back yard laid out. They were first covered with newspaper (no coated paper ads) then covered with 8" - 10" of wood chip mulch, then grass clippings and leaves as I find them. In essence this is a very wide compost pit.

The prospect of digging up all that black gumbo by hand is not appealing, so I am looking for a rototiller (somewhat more robust than the one I rented at Home Depot this spring) with the idea of rototilling the decayed wood chips and grass clippings into the black gumbo sometime in January or February. This would allow me to plant in the spring as weather and plant type dictate.

What do seasoned North Texas gardeners use to rototill black gumbo? Is there a club of folks who own a really good rototiller and share it or rent it out? If not, who is the best commercial rototiller out there? I would think one should get down about 8" or so.

Is there anything else I should be putting down at this time or just pile on the grass, leaves, and wood chips? Someone told me about a product called GUMBO BUSTER. Is this worth while?

Should I do the rototilling now with the undecayed organic matter I have down to get things started sooner?

Thanks for your help!


PS Yes, I have chronic Steam Car Disease. Happily, there is no known cure.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:17 am 

Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:06 am
Posts: 23
Location: Garland, TX
I got a kick out of your Stanley Steamer link. At first I thought you were interested in cleaning my carpets :lol:
Good luck with your restoration project.

I do a garden every year, and I don't have to work nearly that hard at what you're suggesting in order to have great production.

Your thought process is right on target, however. Commercially, we use a rear-tine tiller, 5 HP, and it does flowerbeds and gardens, even grading for patios and such just fine. If the soil is too wet, it's useless, to dry, it's dangerous. If it's been dry, I would water the garden for 30 minutes to an hour the day before tilling and let it soak in. The moisture in our clay soils is what is so critical to work it at the right time.

Your next goal is to gain some separation between the tightly packed clay compounds. This is where Texas green sand, lava sand, and expanded shale comes in handy.

My preparation is to add two inches of compost, plus about 20 lbs of the minerals plus (lava sand, green sand, and humate) per 1000 sq feet. Till that at 4" deep. Nice and slow to make sure the tiller is falling deeply and pulverizing your particles together, loosening the clay's compaction as it goes. Next, I add a top dressing finished compost on top so that I have 6" deep of prepared, rich, organically active soil.

This preparation will work fine for a garden or a flowerbed.

Your results will increase the more foliar feeding and de weeding of your garden you are willing to keep up with.

Judging from your willingness to take on the car restoration projects, I bet you're going to do great.

Mitchell J McGowan
Landscape Contractor
Dotdirt Organic Landscapes,
Garland, TX

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:39 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:47 pm
Posts: 2
Thanks, Mithell!

OK, so do you do the rototilling as a part of your business and if so, what do you charge? I have a 30' x 30' section and a 20' x 40' section.

Best wishes!


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