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Virgin veg plot

Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 09:38
by rubyredshoes
Finally after moving into our house 2 years ago I have a veg plot. When we moved in we had a slope along one side of the garden and I fenced it off and put the chickens there. Last autumn we had it terraced with sleepers and I now have a giant raised bed that is about 2m wide by 10m (the chicken are in another part of the garden now). The soil has been disturbed due to the terracing and there was previously a hedge row where the plot now is - so there is some subsoil that has been brought up. I dug the plot over in the autumn and have just left it to the weather to break up more. We are on Wealden clay. My plan is to pH test it (once thawed) and I am going to try and get some manure from the yard where I keep my horse. Sadly most of the horses are bedded on shavings rather than straw. My plan was to spread the muck over the plot and let the worms do some of the work - I'll then dig it over again before I start planting. I'm going to have a 2mx2m permanent herb garden and the rest is for veg.

Which leads to the questions:

1. Am I doing the right things with the soil?
2. What can I plant in the first year - my FIL says only potatoes in the first year...... but I was planning on having a go at most runner beans, broad beans, salad stuff, chillis, tomatoes etc etc.?
3. Should I grow in traditional rows or is block planting better?

Thanks in advance for your help.

ps any suggestions that I fence it off and just use it for more chickens will not be appreciated by the OH - but I'd love to :naughty :naughty

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 09:49
by tweedy
I would add some lime to the soil that will help break down the clay and improve drainage.

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 12:14
by MrsMopp
I am also on Wealden clay :grin: But I have about 12" of good topsoil over it. Its never good to have the subsoil brought up, especially ours, I often think we should go into business making pots out of it! If possible I would pick out the clumps of subsoil (just any massive bits). My priority would be to add more organic matter. I would use well rotted horse muck, (too new and it will scorch seed/young soft plants) and anything else I can get my hands on - including possibly buying some topsoil or compost if necessary. I spread all my compost in about March/April ready for planting April/May. I would definitely start your own compost bins so you can use your own stuff going forward. However, you may also find a bumper crop of weeds this year as they get exposed to the light after turning the soil, so another option is to lay black membrane over the patch and just plant through slits. If you have bad clay, then you probably should incorporate some grit as well to open out the drainage, but the downside is you need a lot and then you have slightly stony soil. A cheats way is just to add grit in the planting holes/drills, but its not as good a solution.

This year I would probably add some pelleted chicken manure nearer planting time as well.

Your FIL has recommended spuds as they 'break up the soil'. Again it depends how bad the soil/drainage it is with you, but personally I've never found the need to do that. Rightly or wrongly, if you want to plant different things, personally I would go for it. Life is too short. I'd plant whatever you like, no point in growing something unless you like eating it!

Rows are usually recommended but a few veg like to be block planted as they are wind pollinated - sweetcorn is the most obvious one. In fact, I tend to plant short rows of several things like beetroot and lettuce because it suits my beds, so you could almost call that block planting.

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 13:04
by Gilly C
shavings is still good just takes a bit longer to rot, you will get lots of weeds we have just started a veg plot on what was lawn, we had good crops in the first 2 beds the others are still covered in membrane, you can add anything ie cardboard to bulk up and break up the soil, google lasagne gardening I plant in blocks and rows which ever totally up to you if you use no dig beds you can cram more plants in as long as you keep feeding the soil chicken manure pellets are good and cheap at Wilkinsons remember to plant same groups of plants together so you can rotate the beds but don't take it too seriously look on The Kitchen Garden Forum for useful tips and massive good luck !

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 17 Feb 2012, 10:25
by rubyredshoes
Thanks for the replies - the compost heap has been going since we moved in so I will have fun digging that all in- It is where I compost all the chicken muck after cleaning the houses and I've also been sneaking home 'Floss the Cob' pooh. Hopefully the weeds won't be too bad as the girls spent the last year sorting out the plot for me.

will google lasagne gardening.......thanks again!!!!

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 17 Feb 2012, 12:51
by Henwife
........and ignore the advice about potatoes. They're no fun at all, the weeds grow well and any breaking up of the soil is done by you earthing them up. They really aren't worth the time and effort in the first year. Plant the things you're going to eat, and plan the asparagus bed now - it's a 'several years' project but worth every minute of it.

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 17 Feb 2012, 13:10
by rubyredshoes
I had the potatoe discussion with my FIL - he said the potatoes break the soil up but I argued that it was all the digging in prep, earthing up and then harvesting.......he's always right though - you'll never win a arguement with a 85yold Italian who has gardened and had allotments all his life........... :-'''

I'm having fun looking through the seed cataogues and doing the planning - I will only grow what we like eating. Asparagus sounds good - thanks for the suggestion!

OH does not do gardening (doesn't do outdoors or animals either) but he saw Tweedy's post about lime.......he said they are too expensive and would lemons do the same job????............. #-o #-o #-o

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 11 Apr 2012, 00:32
by darcyvuqua
i know this sounds silly but do you have a pic of your plot?

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 15 Oct 2012, 11:17
by mattie2012
Not a great picture through the hallway window but this is my veg patch the day I moved into the house (Overgrown) but it shows the view very well :oops:

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 21:36
by Ellen Rose
Lucky duck .......rolling hills ....... Fantastic view :)

Re: Virgin veg plot

Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 23:51
by mattie2012
I love it and my family do. At the bottom of the hill we live on is a river (the kids love playing dow there) in the summer. You can wander all day and not meet a soul.

To the left of that window is our bedroom....complete with's even more fantastic sat out there:-)