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New garden, new area, growing problems

My wife and I have recently moved to South Somerset.  We have planted various veg plants, but have come up against problems.  For instance, with potatoes, the plants have grown on top, even flowering first early spuds, but there are no tubers setting.  Similarly, beetroot is showing leaf growth, but nothing underground.  Our soil is dark and alkaline, very crumbly.  We have dug in lots of composted horse manure since buying our home and weeded heavily.  We have lots of experience in growing veg, having had allotments in the past in our former Berkshire home.  Any help would be very much appreciated.


  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619

    If we weren't in monsoon I might think your soil was too dry. I note that you've dig in lots of horse poo, is the leafy growth you're seeing distorted in any way? 

  • No, there is no distortion in the leaves of any plants.  For instance, the peas, which have grown pods but have no peas within them.  The best-growing plants, if I can put it that way, are the cabbages and cauliflower, which are showing good signs of coming to fruition.  I am loathe to check my main crop of spuds at this point for fear that they are heading the same way as the first earlies.  I am baffled;  I have tested the soil and believe it to be very alkaline, so could that have any bearing on this issue?

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,384

    Hi Dudley, It could - most plants prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil.  In alkaline soils, they find it difficult to take in Phsphorous, essential for fruit and veg.  Have a look here:

     and here:

    While adding organic matter increases acidity slightly, it sounds like adding sulpher would be your best bet.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Many thanks Bob, very informative.  I think the best thing to do is to re-test various areas of the garden and then take action, probably with sulphur.  I particularly want to change the Ph of the vegetable area.


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