Soil Care

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by ricky101, Nov 11, 2021.

  1. ricky101

    ricky101 Total Gardener

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2016
    Messages:
    2,351
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Sheffield
    Ratings:
    +3,069
    Hi,

    Of late have read or listened to various ways to care for the soil, some a bit contradicting, so wondered what others do ..?

    Case 1 - adding a mulch of compost/manure to the soil in Autumn vs Spring.
    but if mulching and /or fertilizing in Autumn does not most the goodness get washed away with the winter rains ?

    Case 2 - for the last couple of years we have sown a green manure over the finished veg patches and dug them in a few weeks before sowing the spring crops.
    But recent 'experts' saying we should not dig the soil as it releases masses of Co2, so only place compost on top.(bbc radio GQT)

    Begin to wonder if they will stop us digging up root veg all together !
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Clare G

      Clare G Super Gardener

      Joined:
      Mar 29, 2017
      Messages:
      452
      Gender:
      Female
      Location:
      London UK
      Ratings:
      +1,125
      I think it will depend a bit on the soil; I guess with something light there could be issues with goodness draining away before you can use it. Here, I am on good old heavy London clay, with a system of 2 compost bins. I like to empty one out in Oct/Nov and use the contents as an autumn mulch on the borders, thus giving myself space to start composting old foliage too. This has really helped improve the condition of the soil, as did adding one of those mega-bags of "soil conditioner" several years ago, when I needed to raise the level of the beds slightly after having the lawn replaced by gravel.

      The soil seems in good heart now and feels nice to work :) I've never dug it over as a matter of routine, but in the past the clay would dry out to a "pan" in prolonged dry weather; it shows much less tendency to do that now. If patches of bare earth do start to look compacted I can easily break them up with a hoe, or if need be a fork.

      When I plant new plants I might add some compost to the hole, and usually some blood and bone. Roses get a couple of doses of rose fertiliser round their roots in the spring, and I used to scatter handfuls of Growmore around the borders then too, as advised by my mother and in a somewhat ritualistic manner; not sure it added much, and I think Growmore is now seen as a bit un-green? I tried buying a box of chicken manure pellets instead last year, but didn't feel those were doing much for soil performance either!
       
      • Like Like x 2
      • ricky101

        ricky101 Total Gardener

        Joined:
        Jun 15, 2016
        Messages:
        2,351
        Gender:
        Male
        Location:
        Sheffield
        Ratings:
        +3,069
        Interesting, though should have mentioned that our soil is a very fine clay / silty type.

        Have used chicken pellets the last couple of years and the results seemed good ? though a bit difficult to be sure without anything to compare against.
         
      • gks

        gks Gardener

        Joined:
        Feb 28, 2021
        Messages:
        502
        Gender:
        Male
        Occupation:
        Production Manager
        Location:
        Cumbria
        Ratings:
        +1,709
        Growmore has never been classed as green, in fact most fertilisers are not green when you take in to account they still need processing. In our local constituency, the firm that normally allows and processes green waste has been rejecting it due to contamination. Hosepipes, metal, glass, plastic you name it they have had enough. The council has now issued a warning that they will be checking green bins and those who are found to be using them for all types of waste will be removed from the collection and not before time.
         
        • Agree Agree x 1
        • Informative Informative x 1
        • Macraignil

          Macraignil Gardener

          Joined:
          Dec 25, 2019
          Messages:
          200
          Gender:
          Male
          Occupation:
          Avoiding getting fired.
          Location:
          Cork
          Ratings:
          +487
          I try to add some manure and compost to any bare soil at various points through the year and just avoid doing so if the ground gets dry which is not that often. The soil in the garden here is on a hillside so is not very deep so I think the organic material will help build it up a bit but it is possible to go too far and some shrubs and Mediterranean herbs may be better off growing in low nutrient soils so I avoid adding nutrients close to them.

          Case 1: I do both. I am not very worried about the nutrients being washed into the soil as it breaks down from Autumn application as I have a good number of trees and shrubs planted that have roots that go deep into the soil to collect nutrients further down and make use of it themselves and bring it back up again in the growth of their leaves which in turn may add the nutrients to the surface again.

          Case 2: I like a good number of winter vegetables with beetroot, chard, kale, garlic, leeks and some broccoli occupying most of my vegetable plot over winter this year so have no space for green manure but think they are a good idea if the soil was going to be left bare otherwise. I would have thought any CO2 released by digging them back in to the soil in the spring would have been fixed there by the green manure crop growing so I would not regard that as a net increase in atmospheric CO2 by growing the crop to dig in. The option of leaving the soil bare overwinter would be much worse in leaving soil life die off and release CO2 to the atmosphere from that decaying and also letting the nutrients be washed out of the soil at the same time.

          I avoid digging in the garden but don't think it is possible to do gardening without some digging and I don't think turning over a little soil with a manual garden fork is of any significance compared to the huge areas rotovated mechanically by industrial scale farming which would be the alternative source of many root vegetables sold in the shops.

          Happy gardening!
           
          • Like Like x 1
          • NigelJ

            NigelJ Total Gardener

            Joined:
            Jan 31, 2012
            Messages:
            3,823
            Gender:
            Male
            Occupation:
            Mad Scientist
            Location:
            Paignton Devon
            Ratings:
            +13,431
            I've used green manures for a number of years, any time I have a piece of ground that will remain empty for a few weeks I sow green manure, especially in autumn. This is to increase the organic matter in the soil, protect the soil from winter rains and help prevent nutrients washing through the soil. In summer if they flower that's a bonus for pollinators, another benefit is that the green manure provides shelter for invertebrates (both useful and less so). When I need the space I either dig the green manure in if not too tall or cut down, compost the top part and dig in the lower stems and roots. This gets done a couple of weeks before I want to plant.
            I have started to use chicken manure pellets recently in stead of Growmore, the jury is still out on this.
            When planting shrubs etc I use mycorrhizal fungi and blood fish and bone as a slow release fertiliser.
             
            • Informative Informative x 1
            • Sandy Ground

              Sandy Ground Total Gardener

              Joined:
              Jun 10, 2015
              Messages:
              2,227
              Gender:
              Male
              Occupation:
              Retd. D&D Engineer
              Location:
              Scania, Sweden
              Ratings:
              +5,251
              By my way of thinking, the thing that is best is to try to copy nature. Leaves fall off trees in Autumn, and during the Winter the nutrients (for lack of a better word!) of these leaves re-enter the earth, then the whole cycle starts again during the Spring. In my opinion, the goodness does not get washed away, it gets washed into the place it will do most good.

              As an example from my own garden. Some years ago now, I was given the tip to place the thuja cuttings I get in early Autumn on my rose beds. Apparently, the toxins in them would get rid of blackspot. I coarse grind the cuttings, and use them as a mulch. By the time Spring comes around, the cuttings have mostly disappeared, and yes the roses stay free of blackspot all summer. That suggests to me that the "goodness" does its job for a long period. I'm not for one munute saying that I am right or wrong, but the facts as I have seen them do seem to speak for themselves. Incidentally, if there are cuttings left over, I "fine shred them, put them in a separate heap on the compost, and use them as lawn dressing in Spring.

              In regards to green manure. I've never tried it, and have no intention of doing so. From what I have read about it, its really only what farmers have been doing for hundreds of years. That is to say, ploughing crop remains back into the ground. The question I ask myself is could weeds not be used for the same purpose? Cut them down, maybe put them on the compost, then in Autumn, spread them back, and dig them in?

              Finally, CO2. When I was at school, I was always told that plants take in CO2, then discharge it as oxygen. So, even if digging does release it, could it not be so that in fact its doing the plants good by giving them more of what they need to live?
               
              • Like Like x 2
              • Informative Informative x 1
              • gks

                gks Gardener

                Joined:
                Feb 28, 2021
                Messages:
                502
                Gender:
                Male
                Occupation:
                Production Manager
                Location:
                Cumbria
                Ratings:
                +1,709
                • Informative Informative x 1
                Loading...

                Share This Page

                1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
                  By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
                  Dismiss Notice