In a few weeks my beds will be empty

I have 10 at 4' x 14'

I can get some bags from the local stables

? If my bags are normal builders merchants bgs how many will I need pls

? How long before I need to sow / plant should I spread it

? Do i fork it in or leave it on top

? I have 3 beds that need gypsum to break up the clay so what do I add first on those beds



  • Hi NB2,

    When you say the beds will be empty do you mean of plants or of soil? I live in Mangotsfield and had that red clay soil but dug it all out of my raised beds when I removed railway sleepers & used the soil for raising the lawn area. (Organo-Phosphates [the preservatives used in rly. sleepers] can be real nasties and shouldn't be used for veg plants) so I changed the sides & supports for tanallised boards & steel channels. My 3 main raised beds are 4 ft.x10 ft x 14inches deep and they took 4 'builders bags' of topsoil to fill them all. I bought nice friable loam topsoil from a company in Solihull who were advertising on the internet. This was excellent except for a few nettles that began to come up in it but judicious weeding has solved that little problem (just glad it wasn't mares tail that someone else on this forum got in 'fresh' topsoil!)

    If you just want to add manure to existing soil then the Bristol soil (assuming yours is similar to what mine was) then stable manure will help break up the clay and will give you good results (though be warned - horses eat weeds as well as grass and the seeds come out at the tail end already primed for a robust life wherever it drops! A Cambidgeshire farmer friend once told me to lighten clay you need horse manure with plenty of straw in the mix but with light sandy soil you need cow manure to make it more workable and retain moisture. 

    My guess is that 1/2 a dozen 'builders bags' of well rotted stable manure will enrich the ground well but you may not need to manure all of the beds in one year. Root crops will not benefit from fresh manure as it will cause them to fork and distort. Beetroot will just produce leaf growth & little root if the soil is too rich. Legumes (Peas & beans) will love well manured ground as will brassicas (particularly cauliflower and broccoli) + cougettes, marrows, salad leaves etc. Potatoes will like a little organic material as this stops 'scab' on the tubers. Runner beans will benefit from manure and the addition of anything that will hold water [straw etc] as they thrive in moist well watered and manured ground.

    My method for manuring a bed is to dig a trench at the end of the bed & put the soil at the back, then fill the trench with manure and backfill with the next trench on top to form a new trench and work backwards through the whole bed with the original trench material going on top of the final addition of manure. (My dad taught me that in the 1950s). Hope this helps, John H

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    I'll had a little to what John's said - very few people use straw for horses' bedding now - it's mainly wood shavings so it's a slightly different consistency. It means it's a bit more dense than a straw mix would be but does the same job. Make sure it's well rotted down before you plant into it though. A few months for 'new' manure! image

  • Manure is lovely stuff, even for a lazy gardener like meimage

    I just chuck it on the ground and leave it there - the birds will break it up and the worms will spread it into your soil, but obviously this will only work if you can leave it for a bit. If you want to plant straight away you will need to dig it in.

    I made a new raised bed this winter and had no soil to hand, but I did have a very large manure heap so I filled it in with some of that. It hasn't produced a lot of weeds (I'd expect the heat in a dungheap would roast quite a lot of the weed seeds in the manure) but I have got a fine crop of fungi.

  • GarrySGarryS Posts: 13

    I get horse manure , however , because it is very new I tend to just spread on the top and leave for a few months then dig it in , easier than trenching

  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 Posts: 782

    Apologies as for some reason I am not receiving the email notifications !!

    Thanks for all the advice espescially Johns from Brizzle

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