Looking for a little help.

Jack Terpack

Well-Known Member
This seems to be a strange question, but. I have an old railroad bed behind my house. It's about 80 yards away and was abandoned about 40 years ago. The rails and most of the ties were removed long before we bought the place. It's about 30 feet wide and 300 yards long. When we first moved in, almost nothing was growing on it. Over the years I have put all our leaves and other mulches on it and slowly got it to support grasses pretty danged well.

For the past four or five years I have been trying to get something to grow as a food source for the deer herd. I can't even get WR to grow in it. I've tried Iron Clay Peas, AWP, oats, WW and Cowpeas. Nothing ever even sprouts. Is it possible that the bed was treated somehow to prevent plant growth? Johnson Grass grows well and fescue, but nothing else. Any ideas? I keep it mowed, and it looks like a lawn. Makes a great range for shooting my crossbow but angles wrong for firearms.
I would think that you may have a few inches of soil that will support some grass, but under it the rock may be essentially air pruning the roots of plants that will drive roots far deeper. I see this is areas of thin soil in my yard. In areas where the soil is thin (over the septic tanks) the grass does fine until the heat kicks in....then I get dead spots in those areas because the soil just dries out. You could be seeing the same thing as well in a little different perspective.
I would guess its a little like trying to grow clover on concrete. Although if I were a gambling man with deep pockets willing to risk failure I might try some vetch.
I would try to get some type of disc or maybe a spring tooth in there to try and loosen the ground atleast to the point where plants will have a chance for roots to go down. Then maybe some winter rye with radishes,clover and chicory.
If it won't grow winter rye you probably have your work cut out. I have grown decent stands of winter rye in the bed of my truck!
You might be able to grow buckwheat there. Buckwheat is known for growing where nothing else will grow.

If buckwheat won't grow on the old railroad tracks, then it might that your PH is way off and won't support plant growth.
Maybe creosote bad stuff it was used on railroad ties. There was a place in Kentucky where they used creosote they came in dug all the contaminated dirt out replaced it

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