blk freshwater swamp soil (called black gumbo) for veg garden?

arauquoia(z7b GA)February 15, 2010

I'm going to be putting in some raised beds for a vegetable garden near the Georgia coast. I have access to very black freshwater swamp soil -- sometimes called black gumbo, I think.

Does anyone have an idea how this soil would do for a vegetable garden?


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sounds like it would have lots of organic matter in it. i would probably use it but mix it with shredded leaves or fine shredded bark or some compost or regular garden soil, becoz otherwise i just picture it very gloppy.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 6:40PM
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Many years ago, in the river and creek bottoms around here, many people established farms and grew a wide variety of vegetables (later celery on contract for many companies) in that soil with very large amounts of organic matter and the plants grew quite well although in some instances pumps were needed to drain the land.
Why is this soil available? Is someone cleaning a necessary wetland?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 7:29AM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

I can't see any reason not to use it, and I can't see any reason to add more organic matter to something that's probably half organic matter already.

If anything I'd add sand, or regular garden soil. Wetland soils often are very high in organic matter, which is what makes drained wetlands so attractive to agriculture. But, once you drain the soil, or dredge it up and put it in a raised bed, you expose all that undecomposed organic matter to air, and it rapidly decomposes and, well, disappears. Your soil will settle rapidly and shrink in volume as it undergoes aerobic decomposition.

With adding some mineral structure in the way of sand or garden soil, it should be great for your veggies! but like kimmsr I have to wonder why it's available ... still, muck soil is a valuable resource and not to be turned down when available. It's just that it was very valuable in its original habitat, too.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 10:56AM
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oldmainer(z5 Maine)

Hi arauquoia...I would suggest the novel idea of consulting your county agent...or better still...look around and see who else is using that type of soil and find out how things are growing and what modifications to it are needed if any. Might save yourself from shootin' yourself in the foot...:-) Franklin

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 11:44AM
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Wouldn't you want to check the ph of the gumbo too to see if you needed to add anything? I would think that it might be pretty acidic.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 1:09PM
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You might have to add gypsum to it to get rid of the salt, if there are salt water lakes or swamps around it. Some of the creeks in Virginia were brackish, meaning merged of salt and fresh water. Salt will kill your plants.

Have you ever seen those floating pond containers? You might try some of those, if the water gets high. What does the high tide look like? Some places in England are absolutely walkable soil, until sundown, then they are swamped, or do I have that backwards?

You can build your own to save money.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 1:27PM
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Here in Michigan we call it Michigan Peat. It is great for the garden in any amounts. Spread it evenly over the garden and rotor till in. Check ph and make needed adjustments as it is very acidic.

Corn, potatoes and cabbage type plants grow/produce well in it as it is.

Use it as mulch, it maintains soil temperature in spring due to the 'black color' getting your garden off to a good start.

I could go on and on about this good soil but must get ready to take wife to work. Good gardening!


    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 7:20AM
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I don't think gumbo is the same as peat - peat is 100% organic matter, like a compost. Gumbo is fine sediment (clay and silt) with high organic content, but it's a soil, not organic matter.

My biggest worry would be that it could be anaerobic when it comes out - smelly and sulfurous - and it would need some 'curing' in the air to become fully aerobic and able to support terrestrial plants. So watch out for that. You might need to let it sit for a season to drain and till or dig it a couple times to get it reacclimated.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 4:58PM
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