Planting after Gypsum spreading

reillyoz007August 27, 2005

Does anyone have any 'rules' on this? Due to having heavy clay I have been incorporating gypsum and compost into the soil over time and am now doing another 'round' of it as spring seems to be thinking about making an appearance. I always water it in well but a friend mentioned the other day that you should leave the areas for some time before planting into them to allow the gypsum to be properly incorporated. Old wives tale or some truth in the matter?

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This is an interesting dilemma. I seem to recall Cheryl on the Graham Ross post criticising Josh on GA for contradicting himself by saying his soil had improved in twelve months after doing something very similar to it and then apparently saying it would take 2 to 3 years to improve. Personally I can see the logic.

Gypsum does take time to react with the clay particles in the soil. However if you are planting shrubs and stuff that are likely to be there a while, dig your holes twice the size of your pot size and put a bit more organic matter in the planting hole. I often just pop the plants in at the same time as mixing in the Gypsum and compost. It is surprising just how well the plants will take to the soil while it improves.

If you are planting annuals or vegetables then the more you grow stuff, in and cultivate a clay soil, the better it gets. All those plant roots add to the organic matter in the soil. Over time your soil will get better and the pleasure of turning a difficult soil into a good one is wonderful.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 12:15AM
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I dont know if that is true I put a whole 25kg Bag in small beds and just plant.
I have never had any trouble with any plants flowers or veggies. Cheers..MM.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 12:16AM
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I would (and have in the past) just plant, and mulch which stops the clay from going rock hard in summer, and encourages worms to do their job. The soil here was like grey concrete when we moved here. I am a lazy gardener, but the gypsum, sheep manure, and compost that I hoed in to the beds has turned it into much more friable soil. If I neglect to mulch, the weeds come up in force, and the ground goes very hard in summer. We have worms in abundance, so I assume they like clay soil. There is much more to improving clay soil than simply adding gypsum.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 1:49AM
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actually i've been told and seen it mentioned on ga that gypsum starts working immidiately it's applied. i have used heaps in the past and never waited just planted or whatever i needed 2 do right away. used lots when ammending holes for trees etc.,. just make sure to buy good quality stuff is the go.


mail len

lens garden page

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 3:51PM
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I agree with Len. Don't get too worried about it and if you have applied plenty of stuff, nature will do the rest.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 6:05PM
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Straight in is fine for gypsum I also believe. There seem to be *rules* about lime though, probably to give it time to change pH to the benefit of the new plant.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 6:27PM
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Pardon my ignorance if that be what I am BUT - if gypsum is CaSO4-2(H2O), (Hydrated Calcium Sulfate) how does the quality vary? Either it is or it isn't gypsum. Are there suppliers who break it down with corn flower or talc?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 3:29AM
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I think Len means that maybe not all bags of gypsum contain 100% gypsum. It might be diluted by the addition of whatever, just as blood'n'bone is. Not all brands contain just blood'n'bone. Moral? Read labels!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 6:34AM
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And you are so right Raymondo, I usually buy my Gypsum down the road at the local small hardware shop and it is like wet sand that holds its form, well a couple of bags ago they had none so hubby went to the nursery and picked up a bag there, it was a bigger bag so cost a lot more but on opening it was not like the gypsum I usually buy it was like free flowing sand, and I wondered if it was just a bag of sand, or a lot of sand in a bag of dry Gypsum

I wish now I had kept that bag it came in to see what the contents were, and I cannot remember what garden bed it went into as we did about six of them a few weeks back a bag a bed, only time will tell I suppose...MM

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 6:56AM
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um the quality of the product is not what is in it but how it comes, the more closer to talcum powder that it is it is then the best quality and works as it should, i've only ever used the fine talcum powder quality and never been let down. but again i refer back to ga they say the same thing. i buy my gypsumk from produce agencies as they seem to sell only that quality of product and if i recall a chap at an agency also said about it has to look like talcum powder to be any good.

i have found it doesn't cost anymore mabe even cheeper buying good quality as advised to do so. when i buy mine it is like dampish talcum powder. also i saw them laying gypsum from a tipper truck at a hockey field in rocky' and it was like talcum powder also not like some of the stuff that looks like crushed shell grit.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 2:50PM
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That makes sense now. The only stuff I have ever used has been the talcum powder form. It isn't going to be very effective if it is still in lumps. The larger the particle, the less surface area there is to react with the clay particles, so the lumpy stuff will be less efficient.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 5:57PM
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Sparaxis, you've got it. It seems that most Gypsum products will do the job but the finer the particles the faster the reaction.

It also has a lot to do with the amount of Gypsum in the product and the Suphur. It is all very complicated.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 6:39PM
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Thanks for all the input everyone. I saw the friend this morning and queried his specific reason for waiting some time before planting. He said (wait for it) that it's like fertiliser and could burn plants. I know I know I know! But as he's an older gentleman and likes to pass on his knowledge and experience, I just said 'oooo right' and changed the subject.

IMHO the gypsum really does work and reasonably quickly. I believe my soil is inherently fairly good stuff (lots of worms like Sparaxis) but in spite of everything (including incorporating organic material and mulching etc) I was getting disheartened because planting anything was such a major effort. Even a punnet of annuals. I know it's not supposed to be easy all the time but just thinking about digging in that clay used to give me a headache.

Maybe everything's come together at once after a couple of years hard work.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 9:11PM
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I read an article about gypsum and it seems there are two types (speaking agriculturally) The first is "flour" type and is the finest one and quickest acting. The other is "seed" type and is still good for a long term response. Impurites in gypsum can be sand, so look for a label that says as least 80% pure and the other is salt which should be no more than 2%. I presume this would apply to domestic size bags as well.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 12:03AM
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As a totally lazy gardener I never used the stuff, just layered on the newspaper, compost and then mulch and let the worms do the digging!! After breaking in 3 bare clay blocks--the last was 2000 sq meters in NZ I reckon I got clay sussed. The best success is from small plants put into the mulch brew with the roots just touching the clay, my experience is that after 12 months they've rocketed out of the ground and that yukky clay is topsoil riddled with worms. Good luck, Sandra

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 12:02PM
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