Improving clay

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by PeterS, Sep 29, 2007.

  1. kels

    kels Gardener

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    Yep I sure am..we are taking the grass out and replacing with slabs and keeping some of the borders.Its a nightmare at the moment i'd rather keep the garden. But having serious problems getting in and out of the driveway narrow lane with not much room to get in our driveway.Due to people parking outside their front door a listed building which is facing my driveway.So struggling to get in and out at 630am in the morning I don't need it.I will make the garden work and I will put as much as poss in it. We started removing some grass last sat took most of the afternoon.Due to us both working busy jobs full time sat is the only day we can do it. Both bushes in pic will be cut a lot shorter/flatter the 3 conifers are coming out a 4.6 fence going in.Hopefully at some stage get some honeysuckle climbers growing on part of it and various plants.The pampass grass will be moved. There will be a beds running three sides of the front. Will have hedging and a mix of shrubs & flowers.will poss have a mixed variety on the corner were we have already cut back nexts doors bush which was about 6 x6 foot.There will be a lot of slabs will various other things stones mulch. I will see as I go along the picture is our starting point :)
     

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    • kels

      kels Gardener

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      I forgot I put this in here....I'm sure your garden is looking great.Well since this picture my hun has taken all the grass out the front..dumped it on the back patio as we will be re-using the soil. A 4 foot fence has gone up at the front on the boundary side. A 6 foot fence has gone alone the side of the bungalow to the side gate. We have decided to get gravel instead of slabs.This weekend the final part of the side fence will be finished.The ground at the front will be flattened and the membrane will go down if it stops raining :( then about 2 tonne of stones will arrive wahey. The biggest job is digging the clay beds out and doing a mix to replace them.
       

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    • PeterS

      PeterS Total Gardener

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      Good work Kels
       
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      • jared lecouteur

        jared lecouteur Guest

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        This garden reminds me of my dads old front garden, so much work was put into that and it looks great :) well done :dbgrtmb::dancy:
         
      • "M"

        "M" Total Gardener

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        A really good thread!!!

        I have a regular supply of straw from my duck/chook bedding; I know precisely where to put it now :yahoo: Clay soil ... get ready for battle :paladin:
         
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        • Noushynoo

          Noushynoo Apprentice Gardener

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          Wow. You really did some hard work getting that soil in good condition. The result is stunning.
           
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          • Noushynoo

            Noushynoo Apprentice Gardener

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            I suppose I will have to do the same thing to prep the soil for some Euonymus hedges I want to plant by the end of the year. I thought that as they are at the bottom of a bank that they just need some drainage improvements like stones under the compost it will be planted in to. But this is a real eye opener.
             
          • RocketDog

            RocketDog Apprentice Gardener

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            Wow...big job but it's paid off! Looking good.
             
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            • cherrywillows

              cherrywillows Apprentice Gardener

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              Wow! That was SO useful! The soil in our new garden is just like yours. We're making deep beds for veggies, but still have biggish patch to improve. We'll get digging and follow your plan?
               
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              • CraigS

                CraigS Gardener

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                Trojan Peter thanks for taking the time to catalogue your serious efforts
                 
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                • CraigS

                  CraigS Gardener

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                  Trojan Peter, Alas, my working body is not what it was, so my approach is going to have to take that on board. I'm reading about alternatives presently. What took you down your route, advice from the forum?
                   
                  Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
                • PeterS

                  PeterS Total Gardener

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                  Hi Craig, and thanks for the kind comments. My background is in physics, so I have always been interested in why and how, and I like to Google a lot. So I had been aware for some time that all the traits of clay are down to the very small particle size. Improve the average particle size and you have improved clay.

                  Usually there is not much that you can do with an existing garden, but digging over my front garden gave me the opportunity to start from scratch. If I were to do it again I would use four times as much grit and four times as much manure. But then my garden level would have been a foot higher and I would have had to build retaining walls. :doh:
                   
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                  • CraigS

                    CraigS Gardener

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                    Hi Peter, Seen Dr Inghams' work? The Soil Food Web, establish & maintain this & all is well.

                    Digging it out, is out, for me. I've been busy reading & have chosen to add Humates as my way to attack my compacted soil. I'm going to start treating my own compaction using bio balance media by Better Organix. I've had some samples, it seems to go further, more litres than others & crucially it is organic. I've also started buying kit to make compost biology teas which I'll inject in to the compaction layers.
                    I'll keep a record, may I share it with you?
                    Thanks
                    Stuart:smile::fingers crossed:
                     
                  • PeterS

                    PeterS Total Gardener

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                    I have just watched that, Stuart - very interesting. The biology of soil is pretty complicated and I know very little of it. The problem with reading or videos is that they raise so many more questions that I would love to ask.

                    There are two main principles that I am mindful of. One is that plants need oxygen at their roots. The leaves create sugars and starches by photosynthesis - taking in sunlight and carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen. The sugars and starches are the food that plants need for growth, and are then moved around the plant by its vascular system, to where they are needed - be it in the leaves or roots. These starches are then burnt in the roots (and other parts) to give the energy needed for new growth. The act of burning the starches uses oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. This explains why plants grow as much during the night as during the day. As long as there are enough stored starches the actual growth carries on 24 hours a day and doesn't need sunlight. The act of using up oxygen at night also explains why nurses used to (mistakenly - as the effect is so small) remove flowers from hospital wards at night.

                    Its this need for oxygen that makes the soil structure so important. If clay soil is waterlogged or compacted, there will not be enough oxygen at the roots and the roots will die - they literally drown. If the roots die they can't draw up the water that the plant needs, and the plant will die, ironically, from a lack of water. So getting an open and well drained soil is absolutely key. One way of doing this is to encourage worms.

                    The second point relates to the video. I always like to see how nature handles problems. In the wild plants thrive without any artificial feeding. However they are fed, because the old foliage dies back and rots in situ, returning all the nutrient to the soil. Everything is 100% recycled. So for that reason I like to shred my dead foliage (I was doing it today) and return it to the border as a mulch. Again 100% recycling.

                    But when you grow a crop or use the council green bin, you are permanently removing nutrient from the soil and not returning it. Its recycled elsewhere. I suspect that under these circumstances you do need to put something back, or you will ultimately exhaust the soil. This is what happens in the Brazilian forest, where the soil is poor. As long as the crop (of trees) dies in situ and returns its goodness to the soil, you have a lush jungle. But when patches are cleared and crops grown and taken away, the soil soon becomes exhausted and useless. I would love to ask Dr Ingham about how to replace the nutrients that are taken away when a crop is removed.

                    I don't know anything about humates - but would be interested to hear how you get on.
                     
                  • CraigS

                    CraigS Gardener

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                    Hello Peter,
                    I'll be glad to get out of the classroom.:phew:
                    You mentioned cover cropping, cover cropping and the coming teas shall get organic matter back in soil.From my investigations & chats,Humates form the clue around aggregates, this is a 'bio film', it is a secretion of soil life. Turns out we can put life back with some kelp or fish proteins or grains or all and then we start adding Humic acids. This helps re balance the charge of clays. They naturally want to repel each other, (- to - charge).
                    I've got a garden sprayer on the way (£8.00 ebay) because I'm going to start adding foliar feeds as part of my plan too. They work well in poor soils, whilst I get my soil back in shape.
                    I'm putting back the Humates so that the life can return and so the cycling can begin again (the Soil Food Web enabling energy exchange between species).
                    Put back the Humates and the life can return and so the cycling can begin again. Only organic aerated teas and pure organic inputs are going on, it's going to be a cracker - eventually. :yahoo:
                    Thanks
                    Craig
                     
                    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
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