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Zero experience and have a really basic question about soil

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by Nicola123, Jan 31, 2021.

  1. Nicola123

    Nicola123 Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi there
    I decided a few weeks ago that I’d take up gardening as a new hobby - I have a patch of grass at the front of the house (most of which we’ve just had block paved) which I want to devote to creating a haven for birds and bees - east facing, chalky soil. I asked the guys cutting our lawn how much to remove the grass, turn over the garden and add manure - and was advised I should remove the soil instead and replace it with new top soil for around £500. It seems pricey and overkill to me - so just wanted to check if you all think they are having a laugh? Piccy below is the small space I’m working with.Thanks.
     

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    • SandyNI

      SandyNI Gardener

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      That would be a lovely spot for a wild flower garden. Take off the turf, dig it over and throw down wild flower mix. Wild flowers don't need heavily fertilised soil.
       
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      • Nicola123

        Nicola123 Apprentice Gardener

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        I’ve started to mock up a design - it won’t be wild flowers as such, see attached - plus I’ll be doing a row of lavender just to the left of this under the kitchen window. I’m trying to combine plants for bees and butterflies as well as helping out the birds. I’ll put a teasel at the back and some grasses to help birds build nests and berry producing plants for winter as well as plants offering food in winter months like hellebores for bees. I’ve gone for grey poppies but just wondering what I can plant under them? Any ideas?!
         

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        • Nicola123

          Nicola123 Apprentice Gardener

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          Is there a best time to take off turf and dig a garden over do you think - would it be too wet to do this now? Also I’m looking at the no dig method laying down some cardboard first on the grass with compost on top with possibly mulch fast tracked with sugar water to encourage worms - has anyone here had experience with this?
           
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          • NigelJ

            NigelJ Total Gardener

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            @Nicola123
            Not really a best time for this; I've done it at all times of year. However if you have had a similar amount of rain to me here in Devon it will be far too wet. I would wait until you've had at least a few days without rain.
            no experience of this are worms attracted to sugar? I know some gardeners, especially in the USA use diluted molasses, in the garden. This seems to be to encourage soil fungi and bacteria to grow.
             
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            • Nicola123

              Nicola123 Apprentice Gardener

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              yes that’s what I saw on YouTube re molasses. Thank you
               
            • ricky101

              ricky101 Total Gardener

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              As someone else metioned the other day in the Tomato21 thread, they used Molasses in the water but it attracted vermin, so be aware !
               
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              • sandymac

                sandymac Gardener

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                i use treacle (molasses) for the microherd in the soil, the sugars (carbohydrates) feed the soil bacteria as well as fungi etc and allow them to flourish. molasses is rich in minerals ( calcium, potassium, selenium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin and niacin) as well as vitamin B6. plain sugar water does not have the same benefits. Also you need to be growing organically to see any benefit as chemical fertilizers kill beneficial bacteria
                 
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                • Nicola123

                  Nicola123 Apprentice Gardener

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                  Thank you - that’s helpful to know
                   
                • ricky101

                  ricky101 Total Gardener

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                  Hi,

                  Covering the grass may take several months so that may give you a rather late start on planting.

                  You could cut turfs with a spade and if you have somewhere to stack them upside down they will have made some good Loam by the end of the year.

                  Or, when drier, you could just mow it short then dig it over so the grass is buried, or even use a non persistent weed killer on the grass first, if you must.

                  If you are still going for wildlife then be sure to include bug hotels and some stones or logs where creatures can hide, like unkempt areas of tall grasses at the back.
                  Though a pond is not advisable in such an open area, you could make small hollows that would fill up with rainwater to act as a drinklng and bathing area, might need you to top it up in summer.

                  As you soil is chalky worth checking that the plants above will thrive in such conditions / high Ph.
                   
                • ricky101

                  ricky101 Total Gardener

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                  Interesting, do you have any problems with vermin due to the molasses ?

                  Also not aware that chemical ferts actually killed the benefical soil bacteria ?! can you point us to a link/site that will give us some practical insight into organic feeding please.
                   
                • Nicola123

                  Nicola123 Apprentice Gardener

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                • Nicola123

                  Nicola123 Apprentice Gardener

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                  Thank you - hopefully I did my research right and all plants like my soil or can tolerate it. I think my other big issue is the location. I think that may be my bigger problem.

                  I’d like a chemical free zone if possible - I’ve purchased several bug hotels that can be cleaned fully - the ones you can’t clean leave bees open to various bugs - and good idea re logs at the back- I’d not factored those in which would be super beneficial. :redface: I’ve purchased a rainwater container so aim to use that water to replenish water for them from a bowl filled with pebbles and/or water plants with during hosepipe bans. Thank you! I also wanted to work out a way to give bees an underground nesting site so still looking into that.
                   
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                  • sandymac

                    sandymac Gardener

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                    i have no vermin problems with organic fertilizers.
                    there are many sites that have done studys on organic vs inorganic fertilization but to read the actual paper will cost usually £35 to £50.
                    For a general overview see
                    The Benefits Of Using Natural Plant Feed & Organic Fertilizers (quickcrop.co.uk)
                    regards Sandy
                     
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                    • ricky101

                      ricky101 Total Gardener

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                      Assume you mean the openness to the access(?) road ?

                      Possibly a row of large stones just by the kerb stones, interplanted with some tallish tough grasses or similar will deter folk and pets from going over onto the border.

                      A neighbour put some such large nice looking sand coloured stones down, but then painted them white !! :gaah:
                       
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