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prepare a bed for clay compacted soil


 
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needtoknowhow
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:28 pm    Post subject: prepare a bed for clay compacted soil Reply with quote

In the good weather we had for the early part of the week we started digging out a shrub bed - its about 250 sq ft. We are in an estate and ground is fairly compacted and clay. we decided to do it by hand as no cash for complete overhaul/serious machinary. also, we're fair weather gardeners and i'm more the supervisor than the worker so will be getting grief if too much more is involved!!!!

took off the sod, broke up the soil a couple of inches, then got farmyard manure (shamrock) and planned to digg this in to about a spade depth, we had just started and hit horrible rubbish - some rocks but mostly hard hard horrible clay . We need to use a pick axe to get through these areas. We had know we'd need some extra topsoil so i have already ordered 3 tonnes of screened topsoil.

Question is, we've the ground fairly well broken up, if not very deeply broken up - only bout 3 inches. We didn't bother with a rotavator as would be a hand held, and i'd imagine not very effective hire shop job. If we just add the top soil to whats there, will i just be creating a monster as opposed to the beautiful shrub patch i have in mind? We've used the manure on about a quarter of the clay thats there but always planned to get more, garden centre was out except for 6 bags of the stuff - should i work this into the new topsoil or the current stuff, as we have been doing, before adding topsoil. Clarification if required, we didn't really remove any of the rubbish thats there as its basically all over the place about 3 inches below the broken up surface, if that makes sence, hoping new topsoild will be about 6 inches deep. any help appreciated. Wink
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walltoall
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Location: Thurrock RM15 via Dungarvan and the Banner County

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:51 pm    Post subject: NeedToKnow It's good news all the way. Reply with quote

Very impressed by what you have done so far! You are doing all the right things including not taking the garden too seriously (fair-weather gardener?). Are you the chap or the girl in this?

You'll have a great garden if you can dig down a second spade-depth, but not the whole plot or it'll kill you or your donkey. Do a square meter every week down to 18". Dig down, pick-axe if you have to, break up everything and shovel it out of the hole. But as you go separate out stones, bricks, mortar etc. Lay that hardcore off to one side. It's easier to do the initial excavations without the new topsoils in the way but it does not really matter if it's already in.

Could the topsoil be dumped in one pile on delivery?

When you've dug out your one square meter hole to the depth of your knee, back fill the bottom of the trench with any rubble reclaimed to a depth of about 6inches, then a 6inch layer of the mix that came out of the hole, then a 6inch layer of the topsoil to finish. Fine the top with your rake and that's one little plot ready to plant or seed whatever you fancy.

Next week dig another square meter the same as before and if my maths is as good as my gardening you'll have 24 square-meter plots before October this year plus 24 plots of vegeatbles or shrubs to die for. You will probably have a load of subsoil left over as you go. It would make a great base for a raised bed if you have extra space in your garden. I don't know whether the 250 sq' is the shrub plot or the whole garden?

Never go out to dig the garden. Go out to dig a small square of it and you'll be an expert in a year. Trust me on this one. Twisted Evil

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Last edited by walltoall on Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:16 pm; edited 2 times in total
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birdie
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:04 pm    Post subject: Re: NeedToKnow It's good news all the way. Reply with quote

walltoall wrote:

Never go out to dig the garden. Go out to dig a small square[/b] of it and you'll be an expert in a year. Trust me on this one.


Brilliant advice as usual from walltoall. A bit at a time and you will even grow to love digging as well as the nice work of planting. 3 inches plus 6 inches sounds good as well as being laden with manure. What types of shrubs are you hoping to sow needtoknowhow?
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Sharon
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds like back breaking work - but well done for getting stuck in - would wholeheartedly agree with the above, especially the 1m sq per week advice - wish I had had that advice when I started - dont forget before u start planting to put the word out to gardening buddies for cuttings etc......don't know where u are based but gardening to me includes giving the excess away.... so when ur ready - ask .....
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needtoknowhow
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks folks - especially walltoall, really great advice there - checked the plot and its soaking after the rain so think more prep is a must - topsoil coming in tonne bags so can store it till ready.

I'm definately the girl and the donkey Laughing is doing the hard graft....lets call me the creative director.!!!! Haven't fully decided on what to plant but am mad about japanese maples, cammelias, rodadendron, magnolias - anything that gets nice colourful flowers - and then some evergreens and some texture in grasses, bamboo and the like - maybe a bit of a hodge podge?? I'm in Sligo but some time I'm down your way Sharon....... A friend has offered anything he doesn't want which had me worried but every little helps. Was thinking of maybe asking garden centre which gets most of my business to do a planting plan that i can wok from over time so that i dont have a midget planted in the back and a 6 footer in the front though am not planning on weed barrier or stone mulch so it'll be easier to add to, move etc! loving the natural look rather than clipped cylindrical shapes, so any suggestion wlecome

Is there a need for drainage if i was following walltoall's advice to the letter? Rest of garden is pretty wet, as is neighbours and field over the back wall - any chance this will effect my plot if i dont get drainage in?

Its just the plot thats 250 sq ft, back garden is short and wide bout 70 x 35ft in total but with south west aspect so we get sun in most of the shrub plot for most of the day. relationship breaker, or a coffin, if i was to suggest he hand dug all that!! Laughing
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walltoall
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Location: Thurrock RM15 via Dungarvan and the Banner County

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:47 am    Post subject: Check your own parish before going further afield Reply with quote

NeedToKnow, why not look into the profile of GPI? Could be he has certain qualifications you might be prepared to pay for? Hint! Hint! and I think he is not a million miles from you as the donkey trots? What DOES he do for a living? Hint

Your plan for the garden sounds good. You may be near the sea in Sligo? If so probably no frost? But if you are well inland winter nights are worth factoring in. If you are within a mile or two of the sea factor in salt and wind. The best trick is to look at what is working in adjacent gardens and parishes. Saves a lot of headaches and makes creative directorship less trying and more resultive. Have fun and keep in touch.

The hardcore at the bottom of the metre squares will form a 'french drain' when the squares link up and by planning which squares get priority you could build on the idea linking up from the garden to your 'percolation area'. The first thing I did here in 2002 was to dig a french drain diagonally across the main garden and gave it access to a rain drain.

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sweetpea
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey if you are having trouble digging this is what you need http://www.chillingtonhoes.com/heavy.html i was a bit sceptical untill i saw one and it was demonstrated to me, so i had a go with a few of them and i can tell you they take all the hard work out of digging your garden especially if the ground is heavy or hard, and i cant dig at all as i have a dodgy back and had to have an operation a few years back, but with those chillington hoes you dont use your back so much. The Organic places seem to sell them, thats where i saw them.
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Sharon
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeedtoKnow - let me know when ur passing am on Monivea/Athenry side of Galway - always have stuff to propagate / divide.....
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needtoknowhow
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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Sharon - will do. Might have a look at that sweetpea.....is there any end to this rain, bed is sopping with all this rain - its doing a good impression of a bath!!! There is definately no easier way of proceeding without digging to walltoall's advice!! Any dry weather forecasted??
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walltoall
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Location: Thurrock RM15 via Dungarvan and the Banner County

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 8:00 pm    Post subject: It's a nice soft day tomorrow and the next day and the next Reply with quote

Rain til Saturday on and off mostly on for ireland west, I'm afraid. But Sun 10th Mon11th Tues12th all look nice. Watch for wind shift to NNW and lightening sat evening. The high currently gestating in Baffin Bay should be over Ireland those days. It's likely that the west coast of Ireland will get a hammering Wed. with winds rising from Tues morning. Possible the west coast will get more heavy rain Wed13. I take my downloads from www.grib.us just in case anyone else has a bit of experience at forecasting this is the best you'll get. It's raw data is at the root of all Atlantic forecasting but it's messy to set up and use unless you've had previous.

I also have a bit of seaweed by the front door.

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