Very wet soil

Hello all, I'm new here and I wondered if anyone could help me.
I've just moved to a new house with a moderate sized garden that the previous householder had covered with gravel. I've shifted a small amount and pulled up the lining and the soil underneath is extremely wet, almost slimy. As I now live on the edge of the Brecon Beacons I can expect a good amount of rain, there's also a small stream about 50 yards away so it's a damp area generally.
Is there anything I can put down that's particularly good for very wet soil to give it some nutrients and body? At the moment I've just bunged down some straw on the small patch so I can at least walk on it to feed my chickens who don't seem to be enjoying the damp conditions much either.
I'd really appreciate any advice as I'm a new and fairly clueless gardener.
Thanks in advance.
--
Tefra


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Tefra wrote:

This is a very complex subject and the range of solutions that will work depend on the situation and what you want to do in the garden. Unless you really must have a quick solution don't rush to fix the obvious problem but consider what you want to do overall. I suggest that you get some garden design books from the library and spend time looking and thinking before you raise a shovel.
David
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On 10/28/2011 5:14 AM, Tefra wrote:

A good starting point might be to remove the covering and have a professional soil analysis performed using whatever sampling method the lab recommends. Many garden centers perform or can arrange soil tests and they are not terribly expensive (at least on this side). It might well be that your soil is not as bad or as wet as it seems now -- some very nasty things can happen to soil under an impervious covering and some of them might self-correct once some proper evaporation and aeration can take place.
As an aside, mention of your location had me doing some research and I think that reading about the Beacons Way has decided my destination for next Summer's walk. It was a toss-up between Ireland and Wales and the walk from Holy Mountain to Bethlehem seems like a truly worthy hike (but looking at the ascents I might have to spend all winter exercising rather than hibernating to survive for the eight days).
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Tefra wrote:

Well of course, covered up moisture can't evaporate... with that cover removed let the sun at it for a couple three days and I bet it will b e fine.
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Tefra;940414 Wrote: > Hello all, I'm new here and I wondered if anyone could help me.

> previous householder had covered with gravel. I've shifted a small > amount and pulled up the lining and the soil underneath is extremely > wet, almost slimy. As I now live on the edge of the Brecon Beacons I can > expect a good amount of rain, there's also a small stream about 50 yards > away so it's a damp area generally.

> soil to give it some nutrients and body? At the moment I've just bunged > down some straw on the small patch so I can at least walk on it to feed > my chickens who don't seem to be enjoying the damp conditions much > either.

> gardener.

Hi Tefra, Its possible that the soil is not as bad as you might think ? let me explain. Its possible that having the fabric with pebbles on top has caused the soil to become as you describe, often, when you first remove the fabric, it does appear as you said ? but before doing anything else, i'd roughly dig it over (even a small area as a test patch) and let some air into it, you might find that it looks very different ? Its because, the effect of the fabric and no air, does create a stale slimy effect as it is always wet underneath.
Try this first, you might be suprised !! regards Lannerman.
--
lannerman


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Here's what I'd do this fall: -- rough pH test; also a test on similar soil that hasn't been covered compare the results. There's a fair chance your newly uncovered soil is pretty acid from the stagnant water and anaerobic bacteria. -- shake test for soil texture --- dig several small pits and combine the soil from the test pits for the shake test. This also gets you a peek at the soil a bit deeper down. I'd go down at least 12" with those pits. -- a winter cover crop. I'm not conversant with the probable winter weather in your area, but talk to local organic gardeners who are -- it'll probably be something like oats or buckwheat. Getting some roots moving down into the soil will help break up compaction, and the soil organic matter will be nice to have when you start improving the soil for whatever conditions you're aiming for nextspring.
That cover crop will also help prevent soil erosion this winter. If that's not possible, then I'd put down a good layer of straw (not hay, which is typically loaded with seeds).
Repeat the pH test next spring and correct as needed with lime or gypsum. The shake test will give you an idea of how much organic matter you'll need for whatever it is you're trying to grow. http://ecolocalizer.com/2011/05/27/what-kind-of-soil-do-i-have-the-shake-test /
If you don't know the area well and you're in mountainous terrain, consider adding a couple of recording thermometers, one for soil, one for air temps. Microclimates are a major factor in gardening in hilly or mountainous areas, even if you're just in the foothills.
Kay
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