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Main Banana Discussion This is where we discuss our banana collections; tips on growing bananas, tips on harvesting bananas, sharing our banana photos and stories.


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Old 10-07-2015, 12:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Gypsum

Hi all, in the next few weeks I will be tilling up and adding amendments to a large part of my yard that I'll be planting bananas and other tropicals in next spring. The soil here is very heavy, clayey, "gumbo" and I was wondering if it would be beneficial to add a little gypsum to loosen things up. I've never used it so I don't know exactly how to work with it. Opinions?
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Old 10-07-2015, 04:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Gypsum

Be careful gypsum will change the pH of the soil.
Why not use manure, sand and top soil?
In my potted bananas I use pine bark which drains better than anything I've ever tried.
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Old 10-09-2015, 03:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Gypsum

My experience & investigation is that Gypsum does not change pH. They say that it does help break down the clay. It is very good as a soil amendment and highly recommend. I have been applying monthly to my yard with very good results. I am going to do a big number this fall and winter in my banana beds. Keep in mind that it takes months for it to work so apply numerous times. It is mineral so is organic.
Good luck!
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Old 10-09-2015, 04:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Gypsum

Have you checked out lasagna gardening? I was doing it years before I heard of Ruth Stout; it's just plain common sense so I suspect many peeps also did. I tilled up gardens in my youth; the gardens sucked. Since then I have participated in turning the soil only under duress. My family of farmers in upstate NY went to no till many years ago: I come from a line of smart folk. Tilling brings up years of buried weed seeds. I hate weeding even though it's pretty easy in this sand; tilling just stirs things up IMO.

I'm an old lady who has always been very lazy and cheap so I try to fight my battles smart and I hate pulling weeds. In MD I piled free city leaf mulch over clay and it turned into dirt with few weeds; in FL I'm piling free county compost (wood and leaves mostly) over sand and I'm (well someone/something) is making some dirt with few weeds that are easily pulled. Piling compostables on and not looking back has worked for me for over 40 years...saved a lot of gas also.

Gypsum is fine to add. Won't change much. BTDT in a fairly small bed. Leaves, ground up wood and kitchen scraps will do more for your "dirt" then drywall. (Yes, I've put some into a small garden but didn't notice any improvements.)

BTW, I took white throwable clay beds to 2' of black gold by 25 years of topdressing with leaf mulch--just leaves the city on the cusp of NW DC collected, let sit and I brought back for my gardens. Never fertilizer in my city lot.

Think about tilling--really. If you can find a way to better spend your time/money, why not?
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Old 10-09-2015, 07:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Gypsum

Quote:
Originally Posted by GardenGuy View Post
Hi all, in the next few weeks I will be tilling up and adding amendments to a large part of my yard that I'll be planting bananas and other tropicals in next spring. The soil here is very heavy, clayey, "gumbo" and I was wondering if it would be beneficial to add a little gypsum to loosen things up. I've never used it so I don't know exactly how to work with it. Opinions?
Apply the product at recommended rate.....
A photo of your soil will help.
Apply as much organics as you can......ALOT.
.
Untitled
by
Hostafarian
,
on Flickr
.Adding this to your soil will not Magically Loosen it up....this takes time.

This process takes some tilling/coring and many seasons to loosen your soil.
Unfortunately there is not a magic potion to make your soil perfect , this takes time and much effort.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Gypsum

A note to growers in the western states, particularly southern CA. Gypsum is a source of Calcium. You already have sufficient if not too much Calcium in your native soil. Adding more is ok in many acid-prone areas east of the rockies but a poor idea in the western states. As cincinnana points out, for bananas you are better off mixing in copious amounts of cured compost prior to planting. You can get this cheaply if not for free at a local licensed greenery facility.

(Why licensed?: compost is a regulated commodity in all western states. If they are licensed then they are tested quarterly for composition and cure.)

(Why cured?: fresh, decomposing greenery material will "burn" your plants.)
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Gypsum

Unless you live in the shadow of the EPA in DC as I did for many years, they don't regulate everything here in the east. Is there a city or county that collects hurricane/storm stuff near you? If so, they probably have a program like what we have in Brevard county where you can pick up "finds" (still not sure why that's what they're called or if it is what the nice black stuff is called) for free. It's called compost up north and takes a least a year to make there; in the south it's ready to go in about 3 months. Go get you some if you can.
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Old 10-10-2015, 04:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Gypsum

Thanks so much everyone! I really appreciate it
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Old 10-11-2015, 02:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Gypsum

Gypsum will change pH, if it doesn't change your pH that is because you may already be equivalent to gypsum, or the drainage is washing it away.
It is widely used in whisky and other spirit mashes to alter the pH for yeast happiness.
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