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Soil improvement - is now too early?


 
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Ado
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 11 Jul 2011
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Location: Dublin

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:57 am    Post subject: Soil improvement - is now too early? Reply with quote

Hi
I was away for the first half of the year and so haven't been able to get growing this year yet on my allotment. It's my second year on the allotment and my current plan is now to put some time and effort into improving the soil. It's a heavy clay soil and I want to improve it by digging in spent mushroom compost/manure.
I'm wondering if there's any problem with starting this process now, rather than waiting until Autumn/Winter.
And if I'm going to do all this digging, should I also dig in some grit as I go, and if so, how much?
If anyone has any other advice on soil improvement that I could implement at the same time as the digging, it would be much appreciated. I've just joined the forum and have been spending far too much time browsing through it!!

Thanks
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michael brenock
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you can add mushroom compost to improve the soil at any time of the year. It will begin to become incorporated in the soil straight away. Do not spread it in the area intended for carro9ts and parsnips next Spring. For heavy feeders like potatoes and cabbage a dressing can be given now and more in Spring.
michael brenock horticultural advisor (retired)
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Ado
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 11 Jul 2011
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Location: Dublin

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Michael. I've no excuse now not to get started!
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tippben
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you can get your hands on manure and mushroom compost, even better! Mushroom compost is alkaline, and manure is a bit acidic, so they'll balance out. If you're on heavy clay, add a wheelbarrow full every square metre or so. Grit won't hurt either: half a bag mixed into each barrow, but LOADS of organic matter is the most important thing.
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Blowin
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Joined: 20 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Strangely, one of the biggest problems about clay is its colour. Light colours reflect the sun (and its warmth) whereas dark colours absorb it, and it herefore follows that a dark soil, irrespective of its nutrient content, will be warmer. In spring, when you're looking out of the window waiting for the first shoots to appear, dark soil will produce them earlier than a light. clayey one.

The others have advised you how to bring your soil up to scratch so that it will feed your crops and be loose enough to work easily but any measure you can find to darken it will help greatly. If you can make friends with a cafe owner or coffee/tea vending machine operator, they may have a good supply of spent tea bags, coffee grounds etc that, over time, will daken your patch nicely. Some years ago in the UK we had such a machine in the office and the servicing man gave me sacks of rich brown leftovers that produced a crop of onions like I've never seen before or since.

Another option is to relieve the lcoal chimney sweep of his soot. Left in a barrel and covered with water, the water can be used as a fertiliser and the soot will darken your soil. However, straight out of the chimney it can burn some plants so - and one of the experts may enlarge on this - I'd only dig it into your soil 'raw' if you plan to leave it unused for a month or three.

_________________
A novice gardener on newly cultivated, stoney ground.
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Ado
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 11 Jul 2011
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Location: Dublin

PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Blowin

I wouldn't have considered that aspect. I'm collecting mini-mountains of tea and coffee at home and hope to get larger quantities from my local coffee shop.

Thanks again to all that replied
Adrienne
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Anonany
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Ado ... You've received some great advice !

Depending on just where in Dublin you -- or your allotment -- may be based, would you be interested in some free garden compost ? My original forum post is at
http://www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/about5147.html
and I would be delighted to see it put to good use !
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Ado
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 11 Jul 2011
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Location: Dublin

PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Anonany

That's a really generous offer - much appreciated.

I live Northside but coincidentally, I've to bring a small child to a birthday party near Bray so if it suits, we could call this afternoon for it.

I'll pm you now.

Thanks again

Ado
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Ado
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't pm til I've made 5 posts so here's No 5!
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Anonany
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree
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Location: Bray, Co Wicklow

PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's fantastic, Ado ... I've only just seen your pm so will give you a ring in the next few minutes.

Kind regards, Anonany
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