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Going underground, breaking bad, soil health

I've a very free draining garden on chalk.  I discovered our apple tree buried a good foot.  While digging about I found a buried concrete path, and loads of litter.  Anyway, probably rather foolishly I've been pulling all this out and turning the soil.  Barely a worm in sight.  And the soil is turning to dust.  I've probably killed off anything that was living in the soil, and degraded it, while I had the plan to augment it!

It's only a 3x3m section, and I'm planning to dig in some compost into the top layer and cover with mulch.  How long will it take to recover the soil health do you think? 

I did have some turf around the tree at one point, but had read that grass around a tree isn't the best of ideas.  But perhaps that is only relevant for young trees, or restricted rootstocks.  The tree does quite well despite all the abuse it gets.
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  • WaysideWayside Posts: 807
    It was also a bit of a mystery as to where the tree roots are located.  I figure it was planted and then buried later.  The graft is not apparent on the tree at all.

    Lots of old metal waste, glass, a few batteries and loads of plastic.  They probably weren't harming it.  Our back garden appears to have been something of a rubbish dump.  This was the second pass over that section.  So actually all in all, I've probably pulled a good few carrier bags of waste from there.  And it is probably something of a foolish endeavour trying to clean up the garden like this.  When I could be growing myself some dinner.


  • AchtungAchtung Poole, Dorset. Posts: 159
    Wayside said

    Lots of old metal waste, glass, a few batteries and loads of plastic.  They probably weren't harming it.  Our back garden appears to have been something of a rubbish dump.  This was the second pass over that section.  So actually all in all, I've probably pulled a good few carrier bags of waste from there.  And it is probably something of a foolish endeavour trying to clean up the garden like this.  When I could be growing myself some dinner.


    Hi Wayside. I would get all that stuff out of there. I don't know of anything  that would be happy growing in that stuff. Get rid of it and get yourself a delivery of topsoil. 
  • WaysideWayside Posts: 807
    I won't be growing that much around the tree, just a few bedding plants that can handle the semi shade.  Actually the apple tree is quite late to come into leaf.  So quite a lot of early spring opportunity beneath before it gets shaded out.

    Is grading my own top soil with rotted compost not as good as bringing some in?  It feels counter-intuitive to import top soil (from an environmental standpoint).
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Hampshire Coast 100m from the seaPosts: 1,089
    If you can get hold of some horse manure (old if possible) that will go a long way to improving the condition with a bit of luck the manure will have lots of worms and other beneficial bacteria in it.

    I now what its like I inherited an allotment last year and I think the guy before me had used it to dump all his household waste on it, like you loads of old carrier bags, cans, glass, plastic, even an old wheel.

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,315
    Wayside said:

    Is grading my own top soil with rotted compost not as good as bringing some in?  It feels counter-intuitive to import top soil (from an environmental standpoint).
    Your own soil and compost is much better than imported. Apart from the environmental issues, importing top soil can import weeds - not all suppliers are very good at getting things like bindweed and ground elder roots out of it.

    You need to build the 'dead' ecology. Manure is helpful but ideally you want to encourage a wide variety of fungi and invertebrates to build up the soil bacteria. So I'd go for a mixture of rotted manure, composted bark, leaf mould if you can get/make it. And mulch rather than dig, to let the structure become established. If it fruits, ideally leave as many of the apples as you can bear to on the ground (or just under the surface) to rot down. You'll get plenty of wasps and probably rodents though, so treat that one with caution, depending on where your garden is and where the tree is relative to your house.

    It's a Good Thing to have got the rubbish out and removed the concrete which will have been inhibiting the movement of water and animals within the soil. Now you need to try to build an ecosystem around the tree. It doesn't take very long.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • WaysideWayside Posts: 807
    Thanks for the suggestions.  Was going to just throw as much leafy/woody composty stuff on it as I could, and hope that it doesn't become the resident cat toilet.  Which it likely will.  Alas, if only that was as good as horse manure.
  • AchtungAchtung Poole, Dorset. Posts: 159
    It really doesn't matter what you throw on "It", topsoil, manure et al. You need to remove the batteries at least. HTH. 
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    "Garden for sale. Batteries included".
  • AchtungAchtung Poole, Dorset. Posts: 159
    LOL! 
  • WaysideWayside Posts: 807
    edited April 2019
    I have taken out the batteries.  Neighbours think I'm a loon (in my mind...) for pain painstakingly pulling this crud out.  No gold yet, about the best thing I've found is a couple of marbles. 
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