Forum home Fruit & veg

Preparing the soil

Wanted help from veg growers!
my small raised bed has been under cover until now but I seem to have a problem with ants every year. Hopefully I’ve got rid of them but I need advice on the best way to prepare my beds as some of my veg didn’t do well last year (carrots particularly, all misshapen)
Also, is it better to start them off in a polytunnel and if so how often do I need to water them? So much to learn!

Posts

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    Carrots need old soil/compost to do well - not fresh stuff. Nice free draining stuff with no stones to cause forking.  They can be prone to carrot fly, so it helps to have a physical barrier around them  to help prevent that.  About 18 inches - 2 feet in height is enough, as the flies don't get to that height :)
    If you're getting a lot of ants nesting, it'll be due to drought. If you moisten the soil, it should help disperse them. 
    Is the raised bed outside? You'd only start seed off undercover if that's what it needs - ie if it isn't hardy, just like any ornamental. If you let us know what seed you're sowing, that would help. If you're only growing small amounts, you can start most seed off in pots or trays, with varying depths according to the plant   :)
    Watering depends on the moisture content of the soil, so it's not possible to have hard and fast rules. Seed and seedlings won't be happy in very wet conditions, so if you're unsure, poke a finger into the soil and water if there's no moisture in the top couple of inches. However, by that time, plants may look slightly wilted, so it would be clear they need some water. The soil structure is what matters. Heavy soil won't be good for many plants, especially if you were sowing direct, so that needs to be improved if that's the case. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • LynfromSeaLynfromSea Posts: 71
    Thank you SO much. Your comments are really helpful and much appreciated.
    I did have success with beetroot last year and runner beans. Also onions and garlic (which I planted in the autumn) 
    Spring onions and lettuces are no problem but I’d like to grow more only I have restricted space. Any recommendations would be wonderful.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    If you give us the dimensions of the bed, that will help with advice.

    There are lots of veg growers on the forum. I don't grow a lot - mostly toms and lettuce crops, but others will grow all sorts of things and be able to help further.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Paul CharnockPaul Charnock Posts: 123
    edited 27 April
    I used to live somewhere with predominantly clay soil and as Fairygirl says, carrots prefer lighter soil.
    I used to dig a narrow trench out to maybe 8 inch deep where I wanted to sow carrots and loosened the soil at the bottom of the trench with a handfork. Then mixed the soil I dug out and mixed this with sand and compost and refilled the trench before sowing the carrots.
    Adding a few handfuls of blood, fish and bonemeal to the soil mix is helpful too. Bloodmeal in particular is good for strong root growth.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    If I do them, I grow carrots in pots - much easier. I use old compost from last year's annuals, or similar. Some sieved garden soil if I have any I can use.
    All clay soil here, and although it's improved, it would be difficult to slot carrots in anywhere into the beds/borders.   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • LynfromSeaLynfromSea Posts: 71
    Fairygirl said:
    If I do them, I grow carrots in pots - much easier. I use old compost from last year's annuals, or similar. Some sieved garden soil if I have any I can use.
    All clay soil here, and although it's improved, it would be difficult to slot carrots in anywhere into the beds/borders.   :)
    Thank you. I’ve done just that. I remember now seeing someone else on YouTube recommending it
  • LynfromSeaLynfromSea Posts: 71
    I used to live somewhere with predominantly clay soil and as Fairygirl says, carrots prefer lighter soil.
    I used to dig a narrow trench out to maybe 8 inch deep where I wanted to sow carrots and loosened the soil at the bottom of the trench with a handfork. Then mixed the soil I dug out and mixed this with sand and compost and refilled the trench before sowing the carrots.
    Adding a few handfuls of blood, fish and bonemeal to the soil mix is helpful too. Bloodmeal in particular is good for strong root growth.
    Thank you for your good advice. I’ve bought some fish, blood and bonemeal. Presumably you do that once the carrots are established?
  • Paul CharnockPaul Charnock Posts: 123
    It's easier to just mix it in with your soil/sand/compost mix before sowing.
  • Paul CharnockPaul Charnock Posts: 123
    and sorry, I meant to say BONE meal is particularly good for root development
Sign In or Register to comment.