Improving poor landscape supply “garden soil”

Tiny909

Member
Sep 28, 2020
8
5
8
Climate
Temperate (all seasons)
Gday good people,

I’m in the process of increasing my growing space with a large raised bed garden. I’ve filled the lower third with logs, the middle section with soil from my property, some of which is a little heavy with clay, I have treated the clay with gypsum and have had 10 metres of soil trucked in.
I’ve used it in the past and it seems to be pretty much just screened composted mulch fines and little else. It’s still very warm and still composting and when it sits it forms a crust and becomes very aqua phobic.

The top 8” or so is this “soil” and I have dug in blood and bone, horse poo and some bagged water saver from the store with the big red hammer in addition to trailing digging in perlite and vermiculite to try and make the soil a little better until I can build up a decent growing medium over time.

I would appreciate any input or tips and tricks to get the best out of a bad growing medium in the meantime. It needs to be pretty cheap as I have limited funds, I’ll add a pic when I figure out how to resize the image.

cheers
Adam
 

AndrewB

Valued Member
Premium Member
GOLD
Apr 2, 2018
349
280
221
Albury, NSW
Climate
Temperate (all seasons)
Hi Adam, sounds like you've got it pretty well spot on. The only thing I would add is some mulch on top, the sugar cane stuff works well for me & goes a fair way.

I recently top dressed my beds with some organic compost from Jindalee ag, as the "soil" from the garden center was much like yours, turns to rock unless you keep it wet. It is more expensive than the regular stuff, but I'm very impressed with the quality. I think they have distributors over most of NSW.
 

Tiny909

Member
Sep 28, 2020
8
5
8
Climate
Temperate (all seasons)
Thanks Andrew, yes I always top dress with sugar cane mulch once I’ve planted out. It’s frustrating not being able to get decent growing medium but it’ll get there with a bit of attention.
 

Tiny909

Member
Sep 28, 2020
8
5
8
Climate
Temperate (all seasons)
Centre bed will be all root veg, right hand side will have two mesh for trellis to grow climbers, left and rear will be seasonal stuff we enjoy.

The far left behind where the trellis is planned will be a poly tunnel for winter cukes etc “hopefully” and that will leave us a small plot for corn and melons.

My current growing space is about 8x1m raised bed and about 25mx30cm semi raised, that will revert to a lot more flowers and cut and cook crops (herbs, salad)
 

DivingTemptress

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
GOLD
Feb 7, 2020
153
82
91
Nassau Bay, Texas USA
Climate
Sub-Tropical
try and make the soil a little better until I can build up a decent growing medium over time.
...tips and tricks to get the best out of a bad growing medium in the meantime. It needs to be pretty cheap as I have limited funds, I’ll add a pic when I figure out how to resize the image.
cheers
Adam
Hi Adam,
Building your soil is the MOST important aspect of gardening !! You feed the soil, the soil feeds the plants and then the plants feed you. Please do not do this step halfway, or you will be disappointed in your results. I suggest you start small, grow in containers while you get your earth in good shape, and then expand your garden.

The amendments are essential. I suggest you use biochar so that all the beneficials have a neural web to spread the nutrition to the roots and the plants get the minerals, etc. that they need.
Here is a link to the post I did about biochar that is a 'quick and dirty' way to get the job done. https://www.selfsufficientculture.com/threads/i-made-my-own-biochar.2403/

Start composting immediately .... gather leaves, tree trimmings, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps etc. and start your piles. When I was remodeling my home, I composted in place all over the back yard so I didn't have to shovel and move it when finished. I got scraps and leaves from neighbors, over ripe fruits and veggies from the grocery store, egg shells from a bakery and coffee grounds from coffee shop and every week or so, added to the piles. I did very little "turning" of the pile and in a year had black gold to work with without breaking my back.

I believe using chop and drop fertilizers also make a big difference. There are many choices ... mexican sunflower, comfrey, pidgeon peas, ice cream bean leaves, Manila Tamarind, any legumes, rye, buckwheat and many others you can find and grow those first! Then you can begin to focus on the crops you want to actually eat. I believe I can taste a difference now that my earth's improvements are in place, and you will too.

Happy Gardening,
P J, the Dirt Diva
 

Tiny909

Member
Sep 28, 2020
8
5
8
Climate
Temperate (all seasons)
Thanks for your input, I have established compost that I use on existing beds but just don’t have anything like enough to condition the new beds.

I have just burns a few large piles, I was thinking about using the remaining ash and charcoal in the beds, I think your input confirms I should do this.

I have a decent ice cream bean tree, I also get as much extra scraps and grinds etc to bulk up my own compost input, I’ll definitely try out some of your suggestions thanks!!
Cheers
Adam
 
  • Love
Reactions: DivingTemptress

Cathy

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
GOLD
Jul 16, 2018
27
27
81
Climate
Sub-Tropical
I had issues like this with my front garden. Totally hydrophobic! I used several large coir blocks and a product called eco hydrate. Dig in the wet coir and water with the eco hydrate.
 

Tiny909

Member
Sep 28, 2020
8
5
8
Climate
Temperate (all seasons)
Thanks, I ended up digging on a similar product along with a heap of coir peat blocks, vermiculite, perlite and a heap of bio char and ash from a few pile burns and then finished off with some blood and bone. Hopefully it does the job meantime while I work on building a decent soil.