a REAL garden... exciting!

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julie_lanteri
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a REAL garden... exciting!

Post: # 245044Post julie_lanteri »

Hi everyone,

We should be getting the keys to our house next week and although Mr said the garden is not a priority, I want to get it started anyway! :p I'm going to need some serious help as I've never gardened in proper soil before (clay around here). I'm planning to have several small beds and only plant annuals to start with - I've also got annual flower mixes if I'm not using all the beds.

Most of the garden is lawn at the moment. I guess I'm going to have to dig soon to get it ready for spring... what do I do with the top layer with the lawn? Should I add manure to all the beds? or garden compost that I'll have to buy for this year? Do I then cover with cardboard? plastic? help! :dontknow:
Last edited by julie_lanteri on Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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wulf
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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245046Post wulf »

The best place to start is small. Don't worry about getting too much done now but, as spring starts to draw on, perhaps a herb garden near the back door would be a good start. If you are really impatient, you could get a few plants in now, though threats of an early and harsh winter make me a touch hesitant.

Herbs are good because they don't require a huge amount of maintenance and can be cut as required (which is why you want them close to the house!). Also, most herbs will last a good long time, so you've always got the joy of something useful growing even as you are figuring out plans for the rest of the garden.

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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245053Post MKG »

Clay soil is the hardest to dig but, in its natural state, by far the most fertile. So you're lucky in a back-breaking sort of way.

The turves you dig out of the lawn can be stacked (green side down!!) in a corner somewhere, where they will happily rot down and give you some very nice loam for next season.

I wouldn't worry too much about adding any manure or compost at this point, unless the soil is really, really, really sticky and claggy (if it is, add as much as you can). As I've said, the soil is likely to be pretty fertile as it is. You can add handfuls of compost as you plant, but I'd be tempted to leave it at that - at least until you've seen how things grow.

I also wouldn't cover it with anything. All that would do would be to keep in the moisture, and clay might be a bit easier to work if it's a little less wet. Don't forget that most of the weeds will come out as you take the top off the lawn.

Happy digging :iconbiggrin:

Mike
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julie_lanteri
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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245085Post julie_lanteri »

Wulf, the only thing I might plant now are garlic and a few onion sets, just to see what happens. I"'ll also put my herbs in their new raised bed, by the kitchen door. I've already got bay, rosmary, sage, thyme and oregano on my balcony, might add lavender... the other herbs will be put in the veg beds next season. I'm really excited about not having to grow everything in pots on the balcony. this year was a bit mental as we were supposed to move before the summer... I ended up with tomatoes, peppers, chillies and basil inside!

Mike, thanks for all the info. should I cover the turf pile? why do I want to cover everything??? :scratch:
As for digging the beds, I'll follow your advice and see what happens "au naturel".
Bring it on! (she says, not having a clue...)

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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245109Post MKG »

You don't have to cover the pile but it's probably better to do so - it will speed things up a bit and stop any weed seeds in the top from growing.

Mike
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julie_lanteri
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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245134Post julie_lanteri »

ok, thanks. will report back when I get digging...

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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245137Post Potter's Farm »

Hi, i find the turf breaks down quicker if you stack it green to green and soil to soil in the pile :icon_smile:

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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245138Post baldybloke »

julie_lanteri wrote:ok, thanks. will report back when I get digging...
You can avoid the digging by mulching instead. Lay some cardboard over the area you have in mind and cover with manure, then straw. By next spring, the worms will have done the work for you.
Has anyone seen the plot, I seem to have lost mine?

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Flo
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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245681Post Flo »

Get yourself some basic text books to read so that you have a guide and basic knowledge. Try the Be your own Vegetable and Herb Expert by D.G. Hessayon for a very simple starter. There are some good RHS books (have a look here on Amazon) as well. Those will be very good companions to you - why not ask for them for Christmas.

julie_lanteri
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Re: a REAL garden... where do I start?

Post: # 245689Post julie_lanteri »

Flo, I've been reading loads of books. I've got 4 from the library sitting on my coffee table right now! I've also been growing bits and bobs on my balcony for a few seasons now. So in theory, I should be fine.
It's just nice to know that you guys are here for the real life experience! (I know it doesn't always work like it says in textbooks!)

thanks baldybloke, I might dig some beds and mulch others to experiment... it will be a no dig system afterwards, just want to give it the best start possible!

potter's farm, thanks for the tip!

getting the keys tomorrow, we're very excited!!!!

julie_lanteri
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Re: a REAL garden... exciting!

Post: # 247172Post julie_lanteri »

well, we're in - ish. I've been busy in the garden, mainly getting rid of loads of weeds and dead/ugly looking plants.
there's a patch at the back with some autumn raspberries. I removed everything else as it didn't look too good. I've put a few small stepping stones so I can access the plants easily and I've ordered a blackcurrant, redcurrant, gooseberry and a few strawberry plants. I'll tidy up the raspberries around february and give them a good mulch of compost as they look like they need some tlc (if they're still blah next year I'll remove them and start again).
Now for the digging... I've de-turfed (that can't be a real word...) a circular bed for 2 rhubarb crowns and an angelica plant. I still need to dig it, I might pre-book a visit to the osteopath. The soil is so hard and compact! Any magic tip? wait for rain, frost, snow, do an easy digging dance?
one more question... all the pots that were on my balcony are full of compost. I know I can use it as mulch but there's not much to mulch yet. Could I add it when I dig (if I ever manage), would it improve the soil structure?
thanks

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Re: a REAL garden... exciting!

Post: # 247179Post pelmetman »

Hi Julie

Glad to hear the garden is coming along. We used to live in Alresford, hate to rub it in but the soil was lovely there being surrounded with gravel pits we could garden all year with lovely light crumbly soil.

Ah happy memories as here in Lincolnshire we have really heavy clay. Yes add all the soil from your pots as it all helps. We have lots of compost heaps here and have bought loads of bags of mushroom compost, gradually after 7 years the soil is starting to get better. There really is no quick fix but on a positive note we find that however hard it is to actually dig the soil things do seem to grow well.

Sue :flower:
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wulf
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Re: a REAL garden... exciting!

Post: # 247195Post wulf »

julie_lanteri wrote:I still need to dig it, I might pre-book a visit to the osteopath. The soil is so hard and compact! Any magic tip? wait for rain, frost, snow, do an easy digging dance?
It depends how soon you need to use it. You've probably just about got time to get your rhubarb and angelica in there although the weather is unlikely to get any warmer before it gets really cold. Looking back at my notes, I put a couple of crowns, fresh from the garden centre, in the ground on 6 November last year and they have thrived. That ground had been under my compost heap for a few months though, so was quite fertile (I had moved in a few months earlier and decided that the first position for the heap wasn't quite right).

The easiest route would be to pile a mulch of compost on top. You could even use the patch as a temporary compost pile, adding fresh material to rot down. Given a few months, worms should start doing your digging for you. However, it could take longer than you want. You could speed things up by breaking up the ground with a fork.

The biggest challenges are firstly, that ground previously under turf has often had various grubs dwelling down there which you don't want feeding on your new plant roots. Time allows them to migrate away (or get eaten by things further up the food chain). Secondly, if it is a clay soil, you don't want to be trampling over it when it is sodden. Not only is it claggy and annoying as it sticks to your boots, you are also compressing it, squeezing out the pores that trap air and allow easy movement of water, and thus defeating your efforts to improve it.

Wulf
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julie_lanteri
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Re: a REAL garden... exciting!

Post: # 247232Post julie_lanteri »

done! :iconbiggrin: (although I'm not grinning that much and I stink of deep heat...)
we managed to double dig the bed and added some manure (it's a circle 1.6m diameter). I received the crowns and bare root bushes today so they'll go in tomorrow. I have to say I didn't expect them so quickly! One of our neighbours used to live in the house and told us the soil is very fertile and we shouldn't have any problems.

thank you Sue and Wulf. We'll try a few beds with compost material straight on top see what happens. I am not as worried about the rest of the garden as I'm only going to plant annuals next year. so digging (or not) experiement it is!

julie_lanteri
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Re: a REAL garden... exciting!

Post: # 249070Post julie_lanteri »

it wasn't too cold today so I worked in the garden. Half the beds are now ready.
I'm trying trench composting in one of the small beds (probably for runner beans or courgettes).
Rhubarb and fruit bushes went in last month and I noticed some growth on the rhubarb today. very exciting, even if I'm only allowed to look at it this year.
there are even a few roses and buds and some bulbs are coming through. it's brilliant this garden thing! :p

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