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View Full Version : Freeze-thaw cycle....


Organic a go go
12-15-2008, 12:17 PM
Not something we talk about much but the weather the last few days has got me wondering more about its benefits.

In the last week we've gone from the ground being lightly frozen, to a deep thaw as recently as yesterday and back to a hard freeze today. Here is what I've seen. As it warmed the soil at least appeared to be more friable and crumbly in texture, almost fluffed up. Yesterday with temps in the low 40's I had lots of earthworm activity in the areas I've mulched with leaves and the compost pile. Not so much today with single digit temps but my point is this.
Is there a way to measure the extent to which, if any, freeze/thaw helps to aerate soils and would there be any particular advantages for growing seasons that followed a winter with several freeze/thaw periods as opposed to a growing season that follows a fairly mild winter?

Things you wonder about when the equipment is all put away.......

treegal1
12-15-2008, 12:23 PM
its called ground heaving or something like that.......

the test I have seen used to really long metal stakes and a spring loaded weight that hangs on a stylus that went to make marks on a slowly turning wheel of paper, like a seismograph.

oh well back to work, its turn and burn time and I am a month behind.......

JDUtah
12-15-2008, 12:36 PM
Frost wedging?

Regular soil density calculations before and after the winter season might give the "measurable numbers" you are looking for?

Per Kiril...
http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/assessment/files/chpt4.pdf

I made a quick calc tool, although I am not going with this biz/website so the link will go dead in a while... (I haven't had someone else check the calculator, but from my tests it seems to work)...
http://www.organicpersuasionllc.com/professionals/calculators/bulkdensityplus.php

Anyways, aerating before winter helps frost wedging to take place?... which increases soil porosity (decreases compaction?) Kiril might have to help on this one?

JDUtah
12-15-2008, 12:56 PM
BTW,

Recent hikes have demonstrated awesome examples of it. Ice crystals forming an inch+ high in the soil. They lift the soil particles and even pea size pebbles that rest on the top of the crystals. As it melts it looks like thousands of tiny grand canyons... This only happens on soil that is does not have compaction issues (never did it appear on the trail). My camera phone wasn't good enough to catch it. But here is a pic for fun... This was Thursday.

treegal1
12-15-2008, 01:12 PM
BTW,

Recent hikes have demonstrated awesome examples of it. Ice crystals forming an inch+ high in the soil. They lift the soil particles and even pea size pebbles that rest on the top of the crystals. As it melts it looks like thousands of tiny grand canyons... This only happens on soil that is does not have compaction issues (never did it appear on the trail). My camera phone wasn't good enough to catch it. But here is a pic for fun... This was Thursday.

dang it that's why my beers blew up in the freezer

JDUtah
12-15-2008, 01:24 PM
dang it that's why my beers blew up in the freezer

lol,

And awe, no comments about the photo? I posted just for you, to make you feel the pain. :laugh:

I wish I lived in Florida at this moment...

Marcos
12-15-2008, 01:33 PM
When I was a kid in the 60's and early 70's, ol' neighbor farmers adjacent to our family farm used to talk to my dad alot about "frost seeding" their pastures in conditions like Organic a go go described in his post.
My dad picked up on it, with some success here and there.

It is not unlike "dormant" seeding, except that you're relying upon the natural forces of nature to open up the earth for you, instead of mechanically slicing it in, aerating, or whatever.

But just like dormant seeding, you run the same risks.

If the ground during the winter's pretty consistently snow-covered, and the weather itself is cold and the winter weather doesn't have too many breaks, but has a fairly abrupt "finish" that concludes with the soil warming quickly, "frost" or "dormant" seeding is almost always successful.

Conversely, if a winter's light on snow cover, and/or there are periods of extreme cold when the ground is NOT covered with snow, and/or there are fluctuations in temperature far above freezing for extended periods, you can usually figure on this type of thing not working out.

You certainly want to make considerations for the potential of erosion from rain runoff when you frost seed.
That's why many farmers will run around with their manure spreaders immediately after they sow fescue or pasture grasses, to spread composted manure as a water-stop.
And yeah, if you go up into Amish country right now, you'll see 'em doing it over frozen ground.

treegal1
12-15-2008, 01:42 PM
lol,

And awe, no comments about the photo? I posted just for you, to make you feel the pain. :laugh:

I wish I lived in Florida at this moment...

is that ice or HELL, looks like HELL to me. that or a big vodka luge

JDUtah
12-15-2008, 04:54 PM
is that ice or HELL, looks like HELL to me. that or a big vodka luge

Thanks for the Humor :)

treegal1
12-15-2008, 06:07 PM
Thanks for the Humor :)
so it was an ice luge.LOLOL


on a more serious note, ice...... that can break apart some serious stone from what I understand, big chunks that carved out while mountain ranges and made the sea water have what it took to make fl some really long time ago. maybe even made a good part of the soil that is out there.

I wonder if a wet rock freezes does it weather faster or break down completely( long time??).

houses have a below frost line foundation that protects it against damage so there has to be a heap of data.......

I also have to wonder what does it do to the water ways and how, maybe down a mountain and down say the Chattahoochee or Missouri river and end up in the gulf and or lake O or bottom of the ocean, can we get that back some how or is there no need..........

wow,,,,,,,,,,, felling kind o small now..............


hey I found this last day or so ago.................

http://www.pbs.org/kcet/wiredscience/video/116-flotsam_found.html

Smallaxe
12-15-2008, 06:15 PM
I have heard the same thing that Marcos is refering to and have implemented that process many times myself. Very useful in trying to beat crabgrass to the punch. But weather conditions may waste a lot of seed for you as well.

'Heaving' is the term we use in this neck of the woods. We generally look at it as when there is a whole new crop of stones sitting on top of the ground every spring. Frost brings them to the surface by the freezing/thawing cycle.

I tend to think of the spring time thaw as the soil being very loose at that time, as well. I have even seen a 'honeycomb' effect on barren garden soil that was frozen especially hard over the winter.

The references to vodka are apropo for those of us 'enjoying' jd's winter scene. Only here in Wisco we do the brandy thing. We are number one in per capita consumption. I couldn't even force myself outside today. Never got above 0 and the wind is still whipping the trees around like crazy.

JDUtah
12-15-2008, 07:23 PM
so it was an ice luge.LOLOL

HAHA!

Half frozen waterfall. Although by the end of the hike, combining the words "half" and "frozen" does not seem possible.

It was so worth it though...

treegal1
12-15-2008, 07:59 PM
that wonderful scenery and great pics!!!

oh snap also found this.............

http://www.pbs.org/kcet/wiredscience/video/132-what_s_inside_your_garden_.html

Smallaxe
12-15-2008, 07:59 PM
The wired science link was pretty cool. I tend to watch that show when it is on. It wasn't about heaving or erosion, but who would have guessed that 50,000 bathtub toys dumped in the ocean would be great research. :)

In 14 million years the entire land surface would be washed down below sea level at the present rate. Of course when the polar ice caps are completely turned to liquid in January 2013 That figure may have to be readjusted.

Smallaxe
12-15-2008, 08:12 PM
that wonderful scenery and great pics!!!

oh snap also found this.............

http://www.pbs.org/kcet/wiredscience/video/132-what_s_inside_your_garden_.html

That begs the question: Does the borax I put down for ants eventually start to 'shore up cell walls' of plants?
I didn't get the Tide conection.

treegal1
12-15-2008, 08:53 PM
I did not mean to hijack the thread but it all seemed relevant sort of, with the water flowing and all that jd posted and the fert makeup and all.............. what ever I am beat half to death from playing catch up, just zoning out with the boob tube

Marcos
12-16-2008, 12:33 AM
I have heard the same thing that Marcos is refering to and have implemented that process many times myself. Very useful in trying to beat crabgrass to the punch. But weather conditions may waste a lot of seed for you as well.

'Heaving' is the term we use in this neck of the woods. We generally look at it as when there is a whole new crop of stones sitting on top of the ground every spring. Frost brings them to the surface by the freezing/thawing cycle.

I tend to think of the spring time thaw as the soil being very loose at that time, as well. I have even seen a 'honeycomb' effect on barren garden soil that was frozen especially hard over the winter.

The references to vodka are apropo for those of us 'enjoying' jd's winter scene. Only here in Wisco we do the brandy thing. We are number one in per capita consumption. I couldn't even force myself outside today. Never got above 0 and the wind is still whipping the trees around like crazy.

I've also heard the term "ground heaving" used in conjuction with "frost seeding".
It all just depends upon what nek 'o the woods yer from!

Not only can you beat cragbrass, other grassy annuals and viney annuals (like chickweed) "to the punch", like Smallaxe stated so well, but a successfully performed frost seeding / dormant seeding can also eliminate the need for a contractor to get out onto a potentially muddy job site too early in the spring, before the somewhat bare soil is stable enough for heavier renovation-type vehicles, tractors or whatever.

I guess when I hear the word... "heaving"...I disgustedly recall what I was like during my high school / college days of amateur binge drinking, :cry::cry::cry: so thus today I make all attempts to avoid such internal analogies.

Marcos
12-16-2008, 12:37 AM
Of course when the polar ice caps are completely turned to liquid in January 2013 That figure may have to be readjusted.

Oh, Smallaxe, you're a smarter man than that.

JDUtah
12-16-2008, 02:37 PM
Glad you liked the pics Tree. No worries about hijacking the thread, my pics have zero relation to the subject, other than the word freeze... but hopefully I’m forgiven by the majority. I appreciate the plastic link, crazy stuff.

Ground heaving is a fitting term, And I am not sure if we are talking about the same thing but someone mentioned honeycomb, that would fit with the ice crystals I was talking about...

Nature rocks... seems a coincidence that there is a process where nature works dormant seeds into the ground for better seed soil contact = germination.

Smallaxe
12-16-2008, 06:39 PM
...Nature rocks... seems a coincidence that there is a process where nature works dormant seeds into the ground for better seed soil contact = germination.

Almost - as if it were designed. :)

Natural systems work!!
When I was inspecting deer fence I walked along side a river birch that had littered the snow with seed.

When is this seed supposed to germinate "naturally", do you imagine?

JDUtah
12-16-2008, 06:46 PM
Almost - as if it were designed. :)

For real... :angel: