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Earth revealed. What now?

Hi All, newbee who wants to grow vegetables in this patch of earth that has been hidden under chippings. The problem is I don't know if this soil is any good. How can I tell? Are there experiments I can do to test the soil?
Has anyone else done this I wonder?
Any suggestions what I can try to grow?
Thanks. ALAN
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  • Thanks will water and look for worms :) remote young family members are following me remotely with interest. The appearance of a worm will make the headlines :)

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 4,151
    There are test kits for acidity/alkalinity. You might be able to buy one online.

    To identify whether you have sand/clay/something in between, see here.

    I also did the following experiment from an old Open University level 1 science course - it might be fun to try if you're stuck at home self-isolating. You basically crumble up a trowelful or so of your soil (depending on size of jar - see later), take out any big stones/pebbles and roots, put it in a glass jar with reasonably straight sides, add water to near the top, shake it up and leave undisturbed for several days (I think I left it for a week). The particles will settle out by size - sand at the bottom, then loam, then clay. Organic matter will tend to float. You can measure the depth of each layer, work out the volume then work out what the ratio of each particle size is.

    There's also an online map showing soil types by location, but might not help for new(ish) houses that might have had topsoil brought in from elsewhere.
  • Thanks Jenny. Kids will love this :)
  • BijdezeeBijdezee BPosts: 1,477
    I remember doing that at school @JennyJ, it was very interesting and I think I'll have a go now with my soil. Thanks 👍

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 4,151
    edited March 2020
    I've dug out a photo of mine - you can see the thick layer of big sand particles at the bottom and a very very thin (pale coloured) layer of clay near the top of the sediment. The dark bits on top of that are small organic matter that didn't float.

    I've also found this link which has a version of the "soil triangle" chart that we used to classify our soil based on the proportions of sand, silt (that's the middle layer) and clay particles as well as a flow chart for the "squeeze into a ball" test.

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    Another approach would be to build raised beds, and buy in topsoil and compost to fill them.  More expensive, but puts you in control of the soil conditions, and reduces your backache.
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,005
    Why did I think this post was about global warming, or the reduction of. ? 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • If that is just compacted soil then your best bet will be to continue breaking it up and add some decent top soil, MPC,  JI 3 compost, home made compost, rotted manure, grass clippings, etc. 
    Unless you can do something to improve the soil, you'll not have much luck with veg growing for this year.
    OTOH, if you've only just uncovered it, continue with breaking it up and give it a copious watering - then have a look and see if any worms show themselves.  If they do, all is not lost but you still need to add some or all of the above to make a decent growing area.
    Good luck :)  

    If that is just compacted soil then your best bet will be to continue breaking it up and add some decent top soil, MPC,  JI 3 compost, home made compost, rotted manure, grass clippings, etc. 
    Unless you can do something to improve the soil, you'll not have much luck with veg growing for this year.
    OTOH, if you've only just uncovered it, continue with breaking it up and give it a copious watering - then have a look and see if any worms show themselves.  If they do, all is not lost but you still need to add some or all of the above to make a decent growing area.
    Good luck :)  
    I found a worm! Which has now prompted worm questions. If I found one does that mean there will be more? What has the worm been eating?
    :)
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 8,096
    That's a very healthy looking worm, and a very good sign !
    I found this information 
    https://www.earthwormsoc.org.uk/node/61
    I have to say, l never knew that The Earthworm Society of Great Britain was a thing...
  • I’m betting mine is a soil eater as .. thats all there is!. Although there is some very white bind weed. Perhaps its a bind weed eater. Now that would be something.
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