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
I'd really appreciate any advice as I'm a new and fairly clueless
Thanks in advance.
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.
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).
> 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
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 !!
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
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.
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.
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