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Using mulch as soil improver on clay.

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  • With clay grit is also good, it breaks up the particles of clay and makes it more friable. Sharp sand
  • FireFire Posts: 19,000
    Is autumn a good time to put down manure, around roses etc?
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 7,086
    Fire said:
    Is autumn a good time to put down manure, around roses etc?
    Yes, it's the best time generally to mulch. As has been said, you need to wait until you've had decent rainfall if it's still quite dry. When things begin to die back is good because you can see the soil surface better and get weeds out before you mulch.

    Where I have very heavy clay still, I tend to wait until early spring to mulch so the frost gets to the clay to break it down, but that's not the usual advice and if you have soil as opposed to material for making pots, autumn is better.

    To the OP, I buy a bagged compost/manure mix to mulch most herbaceous plants. I use composted bark or small bark chips around shrubs and any plants that are lime intolerant. I use rotted farmyard manure around roses and other particularly greedy feeders (bought from local GC). I use big bark nuggets around a few specific plants - trees, mostly - particularly because it lasts a long time and doesn't break down. And I use grit to mulch the few plants I persist in trying to grow that don't really like clay - agapanthus, lavender, that sort of thing. Apart from the grit and big bark nuggets, it all disappears into the soil within a year, (so has to be redone the following year), leaving much better soil structure behind.

    Bark chips may not add directly to the fertility, but as they rot, they feed the 'dead' ecology - micro-organisms, invertebrates, fungi - all the things that live in healthy soil in assorted relationships with the plants to help them grow better. So adding bark chips - especially composted bark (you can buy it in bags) - definitely does a lot of good to improve your soil structure. And no, you don't need to dig it in. Spread it thick by Bonfire Night and stay off it until at least Valentine's Day - preferably Easter. 
    Gardening on the edge of Exmoor, in Devon

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    Isle of Wight Compost deliver builder-size bags of horse muck or the locally made garden compost at a sensible price. The horse manure is usually excellent but I haven't tried the compost.
  • My problem is 75% of the flower garden is covered with membrane and purple slate to keep down weeds. So how can I feed/ improve the soil with these inherited  conditions. Mine is clay too.
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    Oooh, that's difficult. Some people really like membrane and slate and I wouldn't wish to offend them, but personally, I'd have the lot out and then improve the soil.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,591
    Last time I visited Kew in February, they were using horse muck around shrubs near to the temperate house. It didn't seem very well rotted. It does however have a good source, the Horse Guards stables. I guess the worms take down most of the goodness, leaving mostly straw behind.
  • FireFire Posts: 19,000
    I know people who use fresh manure, and have for decades, and swear by it, for certain plants... 
  • Not a good idea to remove it all @Posy as its keeping all the ash seedlings at bay. Any area of soil is plaqued with them.🙄
  • Mary370Mary370 Posts: 2,003
    @purplerallim perhaps you could mulch one plant at a time, removing 6" around each plant redistributing the slate?  I'm going to have to do that with the bark I have down. 
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