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Gardening Q. How to improve soil?
12 replies to this topic
Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:11 PM
Ok got raised garden beds can simply not afford to be buying soil have a black basalt soil I can get from farm, needs to be improved though. What do I need to put in?
I am guessing some kind of compost and a lucerne maybe to help stop compacting so much...
in the dark here and local garden centre seems to want to sell sell sell to me...
Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:23 PM
What kind of soil is it you are getting? Is it clay-ish or sand-ish?
Either way I would incorporate any lawn clippings and dead leaves (chopped if they're the big or especially leathery kind) you have.
I'm used to clay and I found coffee grounds (used, not like dumping expensive coffee all about the yard) and shredded newspaper - the non-glossy kind - very helpful. I would put down the paper underneath the soil on top so you don't have to look at it, and it breaks down in the soil and decomposes. It's also easily gotten for free and if you're using container plantings it keeps them from being ultra heavy to move.
I have friends who swear by rabbit poo but they get it for free.
Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:32 PM
Thanks ladidah I have some rabbit poo composted up - it is great for tomatoes.... although this year I am trying Peter Cundells techinque for tomatoes so can use a lot for the rest of the beds too... I think I will have to dig thru some gypsum I will def see about the newspaper... and I love coffee grounds in my compost!
Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:36 PM
Organic matter is what you're after. Ditto la di lah's post. Put any fallen leaves on the lawn & mow over them to chop them down. Balance out your carbon rich brown material (leaves/newspaper etc) with nitrogen rich green material (kitchen scraps, green foliage prunings, manure etc). Add in coffe grinds & tea leaves either loose or emptied out of teabags - worms love it! Compost it for a couple of months forking it over once a week, it will break down pretty quickly into beautiful soil. Ask around if anyone has manure they want to get rid of, sometimes stables give it away. Everyone has an opinion on what manure is best, one of my die hard organic vegie gardener friends swears by horse manure, my horticulturist mate says cow manure all the way. Any manure will be a good addition though.
Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:39 PM
Oh, yes, tea leaves are pretty much as good as coffee grounds, I just was being ultra-Yankee.
What are you trying to grow? Somethings like their soil a bit more acid than others. Oak leaves and coffee are acidic which rhododendrons, blueberries, and azaleas just love, I think too much oak annoys other plants though.
Gypsum will kill blueberries. But, on the other hand, only I am obsessed with blueberries.
Posted 12 August 2012 - 03:11 PM
la di dah
THis is for my vege beds I have a big one done for tomatoes, capsicums eggplant - have my seedlings going already. Have my strawberry bed in action now too so at moment have built 3 more beds for 1)corn, peas, butternut pumpkin and zuchinni (i think) 2) root crops carrot, onions, garlic, beetroot 3) broc, spinach and lettuces oh and beans.
This week I will be building another bed for a big kickarse herb garden and looking at doing potatoes in tyres...
so all edible at moment pretty flowers soonish..
Posted 12 August 2012 - 03:14 PM
So cool, 3 Keiki, I'm really jealous.
I did potatoes in wheely trash cans once. It was handy because when it was time to harvest we just flipped them over. Also we could drag them around the yard. Potatoes are really easy.
Posted 12 August 2012 - 03:24 PM
I am reading this thread with much interest as I have a 'you're gonna die' thumb, it seems. Thanks for posting OP.
Last season we tried growing something which happened to be tomatoes. All was going well until black spots appeared on them and apparently they were a sign of calcium deficiency. I googled madly and not much could be done to save them but what I took from the effort was, it's best to crush up egg shells and put them in the soil where you want to plant the tomatoes because they are packed full of calcium.
Posted 12 August 2012 - 03:26 PM
Yes I do so love it. Still learning though came to this gardening lark late I guess but with the cost of veges etc it just makes so much sense for me to do it. I got info from the diggers club a few years back - feeding your family in the same space taken by a single car garage. Now I take up more space and once I have fruit trees etc will be a real endevour I guess but even with a bit of outlay at start me and kids eat so much better than I could afford at supermarket weekly.
I wasn't sure about tyres as a few organic purists reckon they leech heavy metals etc but after some more research think I will be right. I would love love love a glasshouse one day. One day.
Posted 12 August 2012 - 03:29 PM
The Cat - I too was once hell on earth for plants but as I said in pp the diggers club got me started. Really good step by step in the beginning.
One of the other things I love about vege gardening is how it has rekindled my love of cooking and trying new things. Preserving and such. Kids are really happy to eat a vege they have just pulled from ground too. and taste is great....
Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:41 PM
You need to determine what soil you have. If you have sandy then you need to add clay based components and if you have clay then you need to add sand. If sandy, but clay kitty litter and put that thru - seriously it works a treat.
I went to a Beyond Gardens talk a few months ago and it completely changed the way I do my vegie garden and for the better. I have headed towards no dig vegie patch and my soil has improved - I have really sandy soil.
I use thick layers of newspaper then pea straw and horse manure and my compost and instead now never turn it all over, just do another layer upon layer and then just bung the plants in and they are growing great guns on top of my once very sandy horrible soil. I think this summer I may even get a crop (normally I stop over summer as it is too dry and hot).
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