Hey All,

I have recently bought my first house and have a fair size garden, now I have never had a garden before and the one I have now needs a lot of work !  As I pretty much know nothing about gardening im hoping that you kind people can point me in the right direction, maybe give me some hints and tips ?  I dont mind as long as I can take credit for it ! image haha.

So firstly it was very overgrown which I took care of, I used a herbicide spray and then painstakenly pulled up all the dead roots, the 2 trees at the top I have dug out ( hard work ) so now Im pretty much left with a blank canvas which is exactly what I wanted, So my first concern is my soil quality is poor, it seems to not have any structure to it and is very dusty, I think that the garden was severley neglected for some time prior to my purchase of the house .

I have a decent size 100 Feet x 16 Feet, however only the top of the garden is going to be used for growing things as the bottom part is for my daughters playhouse and swing ect ... this leaves me with 47 feet x 16 Feet to grow on, I love the idea of having a vegetable patch and being semi self sufficient especially in these tough economic times !  every little helps huh ..

So anyhow, here are 2 photos a before and after, just to show you the progress i have made with 2 days hard work.

Before  ;


Thanks image



  • archiepemarchiepem Posts: 1,156

    yep double dig and put in compost etc . looks like some former owner took care of the garden . looks like its all in place for you and well done image get youself a beer

  • So what is the best compost to use to add bulk and vitality to this poor soil

  • DaintinessDaintiness Posts: 949

    Welcome to gardening and the forum! Cancel your gym membership you are going to get enough exercise now  image  

    If you can get yourself some well rotted farmyard manure - often given away- it would be good bulk for your soil and good for the pocket too. As you are new to the area maybe find your local allotments ask there for a good source...any allotment is always a good source of info for any new gardener. Sometimes they would have a shop or know of discount seeds etc locally.

    Dig over your soil and incorporate the manure. You won't be growing in all your plot over the next couple of seasons so on the sections you are not using spread a good layer of manure - 15cm or so thick - across the top of the soil. The worms and weather will do the rest over the winter and it will help keep the weeds down too making it easier to work in the spring.

    Don't do too much at a time and've made a great start!

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,907

    Looks like you've put in alot of hard work. Good advise, double digging the area and putting in lots of compost will prepare the ground well for next years veg plot.   

    It's surprising how much veg and the varieties you can grow in a relatively small space. If the garden gets alot of sun and the hedge on right and tree don't shade the area too much then you are on to a winner.

    Grow veg you and your family like to eat and try lots of different varieties the first year because some will do well and others won't. You won't mind one or two failures if you get sucesses too. You'll also learn what grows well in your soil and location.

    Ideally 4 veg beds allow you to rotate veg but I get by with 3.

    If you are thinking of fruit, autumns the time to plant. Rubarb would do well near the tree. Gooseberry and currant bushes would also do well there. I have fruit bushes in an area 1ft by 10ft, shaded by a GH and was pleased with the crop this year. Be mindful of planting rasberries. They put out runners under ground and in a small area may start popping up in the veg beds.

    Happy gardeningimage     

  • wow some great responses here, thankyou.  Yes i must admit im aching right now !

    So i was thinking about growing carrots, potato, beets, onion, and a few other bits like chilli and perhaps some herbs to ?  Im very keen but dont want to plunge myself in to heavy first time around.  So once I have rectifed the issue with the terrible soil im guessing its a good idea to dig into sections and put as zoomer said 3/4 beds in ?

    when is the best time to plant such things ? and also is it a good idea to chemically fertilise the soil aswell as the manure/compost prior to the next planting season ?

    Thanks image

  • also sorry to sound dumb, but was is double digging ? haha

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,907

    image Was going to let Verdun or archiepem explain double digging seen as they suggested it first...but here goes...

    Dig a trench the length of your plot two spades deep (I only dug down one spade) put the soil in a wheel barrow and take this soil to the other end of the plot and forget about it for now.

    You'll have a trench the length of your plot approx 1ft wide two spades deep. Half fill it with your chosen fertiliser, muck or mushroom compost and then dig another trench next to the first, using the soil from this trench to fill up the first trench, by piling it ontop of the muck/mushroom compost.

    Repeat this until you get to the end of the plot. Use the soil from the first trench, which you've forgotten about to fill the last trench.

    Hope this is's hard work but well worth the effort...image 

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,095

    I've never done double digging.  Too much like hard work. Unless you have a solid clay layer, I wouldn't bother. It sounds like you have hungry sandy soil. Get loads of well rotted farm yard manure on bed 1 of 4, Leave it for the winter and then grow taters in it. add fertiliser/ garden compost  to bed 2 , grow beans.  bed 3 grow brassicas and salad veg. After you lift the potatoes, lay compost on the surface of bed 1. Let the worms do the work in the winter.

    The following year grow beans in bed 1 , brassicas in bed 2, add FYM to bed 3 and grow potatoes.

    Year 3  brassicas bed 1 FYM (pots) bed 2  and beans bed 3.

     So every third year one of the beds gets a load of fibre to build up fertility and retain water.  After about 6 years, the soil level will have gone up, and you will only need to fork it over. No double digging needed unless you get a "pan" of soil a foot down.


    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • Ging2Ging2 Posts: 44

    I notice lots of advice growing Veg.  This is my first year with lots of Veg and although I have had good crops ,, getting it correct for each veg I have found a bit stressful ... Companion planting have brought in many insects needed to get rid of the pests that attack lovely veg.  Also Brassicas ive had to net because of butterflies.

    We did get 2 tractor buckets of manure and dug it well into some of the beds...

    Also rotating as figetbones said ... you have lots of good advice to follow .... Ive had lots of good advice over the last year from several lovely people on this site.  Enjoy your garden xx

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,095

    I netted the brassicas to keep the pigeons off, but the butterflies wiggle through the netting.  Next year I think I am going to make some moveable cages out of enviromesh

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,907

    I netted the brassica's, but didn't just get butteflies under the netting, those that couldn't get under it laid their eggs on the flowers, there isn't one sunflower leaf without holes in. At least if they just go for brassica's I know where all the eggs are image

  • So ive spent some more time and im ready to start improving soil have ordered 1800 litres of manure and topsoil also  what is the best way to use this ? Simply spread and dig it in and if so how deep

  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,736

    As I don't grow veg I can't help but just wanted to say that I love your enthusiasm, the way you question and act upon advice and wish you great enjoyment in your garden. The kids will learn so much from knowing their veg comes from their own garden.

  • Yea im really excited to get it all ready I guess having never done any gardening ive got a lot to learn im only 28 so plenty of time 

  • GillyLGillyL Posts: 1,077

    Welcome,you will l fit right into this forum,most of us are only 27.image

  • Michael please remember It's not a race enjoy your self first


    you could dd part of your plot/garden and then finish the rest when you have some crop growing BUT ENJOY your self.

    look at the old timers for help most will be willing to give advice can I say (showing off what they know) 

    is their any chance of a photo you could also start a blog


  • Please see the top of the thread for before and after pics of the initial clear 

  • sorry didn't see the link



  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692


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