Monday, July 11, 2011

In The Garden: How to Prepare Soil for a New Garden Bed

A chilly Monday morning to you! The weekends go by so fast, don't they? This one was particularly quick, as I seemed to cram a lot into just the two days. Unfortunately a lot of it wasn't very productive or fun (sorting laundry, anyone?) but we managed some good times.

Sparky was laid up all weekend with a super sore back, so we juggled kids and painting on Saturday, and I tackled the soon-to-be fruit tree garden bed on Sunday.

I've never had to prepare a brand new garden bed from scratch, so I did some reading and thought I'd tell you how I went about working on the soil, getting it ready for some apple trees in a few weeks' time. (I'm clearly no expert, so feel free to take or ignore the following as you see fit!

1. I bought a few bags of composted cow manure and chook manure from the nursery, as well as a bag of mushroom compost. Cons: All bagged manure/compost sold in Australia has to be heat-treated by law, so they are lacking some of the vitality of the natural manure you can source. Pros: Easy and a much quicker turn around.
If you're looking for the best way to prepare a bed, they say to buy manure straight from the producers (ie local farms, studs, dairies etc) and compost it yourself. Problem: it takes a long time to prepare it this way (at least a month or two before you should use the manure in your garden) and can lead to lots of weeds in your bed by way of undigested seeds etc.
2.  I added one bag cow manure, half a bag chook manure and a bag of mushroom compost to the bed (I was unsure about the amount of chook manure to use, as I know it's very rich and can burn the roots of some plants, so I erred on the side of caution).

3. Dug through the bed to at least 30cm and thoroughly combined the old soil with the organic material. This took longer than I thought, but was such a good workout in the chilly winter air (it was dark by the time I finished) that I didn't mind. I made sure to remove any bits of tree roots, stones, concrete I found, as well as to break up any clumps of dirt.

4. I levelled it out, raked the surface and gave the whole area a thorough water.

Ideally I'd add a thick layer of lucerne hay, to help the soil settle and prevent too much water loss, but I need to go for a drive to a farm to get it and I may not have time.
I'll leave it as is for a couple of weeks now and then take another look before we go and buy our bare-rooted apple trees.

I hope you had beautiful (chilly) weekends too??

1 comment:

  1. Apples = fruit fly and need to be sprayed.. You sure you wanna go there?? I always wanted them too but decided against it as the spraying to get fruit was not worth it! Loving your blog B xx


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