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Soil like dust...

Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 3,267

I've taken over another half plot on the allotment. it's the bottom section of a full plot...the plan is to grow friut bushes, some dwarf fruit tree's and low maintance even grow a grape vine in the GH which is yet to get glass and the weed problem in there addressed...

To cut to the chase half the plot has been covered by black plastic, I've lifted it to see what's under there. There are little, if no roots showing but the soil on the edges is like dust and just a couple of ft in the soil is dried out, cracked and compact.

Not sure what to do next, should I just pull the cover off and let the rain get to it or is there poor drainage, ie is water just running straight down the plot. We are forcast rain everyday next week...image

There are very little worms in the soil I've dug. It does have slow worms on site at the bottom though and I came across a frog at the side of the plot where the grounds been uncovered.


  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,431

    Get the black plastic off, dig and let the weather do it's thing over winter, get some muck on. The soil will come back to life then, worms and other invertebrates will soon move back in.

    Terrible stuff black plastic


    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Hi Zoomer, People put plastic or carpet on the ground to kill the weeds, it does not work if they are there they still come. Can you fork it over and rough sow a green fertiliser, dig that in and leave to over winter, better still well rotted horse manure, I know hard to come by though still out there, my Son has a heap of the stuff. The prep is hard work though worth it in the end and for fruit you will need some compost in the soil and for some fruits good drainage. Try a double dig row just to see what is in there.


  • BoaterBoater Posts: 241

    I guess until you get the plastic off you won't be able to be sure about how quickly it drains, but the usual advice for soil that drains too fast is dig some organic matter in - compost or manure - which will retain moisture so the plants can get at it.

    If it's a big plot it might be easier to use a rotavator to break up the compacted soil - don't underestimate how much hard work they are though! You cut out lifting a fork or spade but in tough ground you have to push it to make it go forwards or hang on and lean back when it tries to climb out - my dad had a big clay filled patch and I can remember teenage summers spent wrestling with a 5hp machine to break it up before barrowing several lorry loads of topsoil round!

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    put a double layer cardboard on top of the soil and then cover it with as much well rotted manure as you can, the cardboard will suppress any residual weeds germinating or coming up from rhizome's etc. and the manure you should be able to plant into in the spring.

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 3,267

    All good advise, thank you. Having just dug over half a plot earlier this year, I didn't want to face digging over another, but there's no easy way. 

    Rain is forcast over the weekend so plan to remove the plastic tomorrow morning, hopefully the rain will soften the ground a little for it to be dug over. 

    Rough digging, covering with well rotted muck and a double dig trench to see whats there sounds like a good plan. Frank - there is the biggest pile of muck I have ever seen at the gate of the allotments...10ft from the plot...image

    Boater - no kidding, I watched a guy using a rotavator earlier this year, he said it can be just as hard in terms of hard work, as digging over the plot and I don't have a rotavator.

    Covering with cardboard sounds a good plan but I don't have access to the amount needed but now plan to cover some sections of the plot with cardboard.

    Thanks again you guy's, advise welcome, it is a real boost when you arrive at a plot and don't know where to start....     

  • GWRSGWRS Posts: 8,464

    Hello , yes I agreed get the plastic up and dig in some manure  , it will the right it self

    also went it is looking more like soil put some blood , fish and bone and work it in , fruit trees and bushes like the stuffimage

    Best of luckimage

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