Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Top bed: Come back little worms

Apologies to anyone reading, but this is really just a record of what I've done to a garden bed to try to improve the soil.  It's my second bed, but I failed to record anything about what I did to the first so I want to have a reference for the others as they start coming online incase I need/can adjust what I've added.

Warning - the following will be very documentary in nature so you're encouraged to read in your best monotone voice.

After completing the scorched earth approach to Kikuyu removal (described here) approximately 15 litres of Bokashi vegetable scraps (all that was available at the time) was added to a portion of the bed. The soil had little depth, contained large, solid lumps of clay and was extremely difficult to cultivate - not a fun few hours really.

Dried soil: After solarisation, but before improvement.

A green manure crop of rye and lucerne was planted in the bed to initiate some root growth to break up the soil a little and eventually provide some organic matter.  This crop was left to grow for approximately six to eight weeks (I so need to take better notes) while additional organic matter was accumulated.

Green manure crop - midpoint.
After the green manure crop was considered sufficiently developed the bed was split into quarter sections and dug so that additional organic material could be added.  A heavy soil barrier was met at an approximate depth of 10cms.  A takeaway container and a bit of Gypsum was spread across the base of the bed, although I've not yet actually tested the soil to see if it's sufficiently sodic to make a difference.  I had it on hand so in it went. I must test before I do the other beds.

Into each of the upper and lower quarters of the bed (upper and lower sections in the above photo) was placed approximately thirty leaves of Comfrey and a quarter bag of cow manure.  The middle sections of the bed received approximately 20 litres (one full bucket) each of Bokashi kitchen scraps and the remaining half bag of cow manure.  The green manure crop was incorporated into the soil during this phase.

Little earthworm activity was noted (come back, please come back).

Another green manure crop was sown, although this time solely of lucerne, and both a generic, insect-attracting flower mix and a random sprinkling of some spinach seed I just happened to be carrying was added just as a bit of a flutter.  I remembered to water and didn't bother with mulch at this stage as I wanted to encourage a slightly higher soil temperature.

Here's hoping this'll bring about some positive change in the soil quality.


  1. Wow, that's some work. I jut screened some soil, mixed it with manure, and filled the beds up. Maybe I should have done a bit more?

  2. I'm more than impressed Flo...and now I feel lazier than ever :D
    I thought my soil was bad, but what you are starting with looks truly awful! But I think those little wormies will be back in no time with all those yummy organic things going into the soil!

  3. It doesn't look too plant friendly does it? I'm heartened by my first bed though - the soil has turned considerably better looking.

  4. Since I often have had to use a pick ax on my own clay soil, I appreciate what you are up against. it sounds like you are doing a great job. It is a joy to see those little worms!