hard soil

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hard soil

Postby julien1 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:38 am

i have recently had problems with hard soil, possibly the cold weather but that eased off a while ago for me and i want to keep it moving, are there any other things that can cause hard soil? i want to get tilling the beds ready for planting soon but its proving to be incredibly demanding manual labour... can anyone offer a solution?
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Re: hard soil

Postby julien1 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:56 am

in searching since posting i have in fact come across the rotovator:
Image
and the man seems to also be maintaining a lovely straight back, which i would love to do, mine kills after a full day in the garden! sign of age i guess!!
now i have had a very quick browse and they dont seem to be too expensive:http://www.twenga.co.uk/prices-garden-rotovator.html
but i dont really want to buy until ive heard from others. do any of you use one? or have thought of it? can i get some opinions on them, has it just rusted in the shed cos it was more hassle than it was worth? i understand that this wont prevent my soil from getting hard, mereky help me deal with it but im really not sure what i can do to prevent soil doing that... id love to hear from you all on this...
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Re: hard soil

Postby despair » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:50 pm

You need to know the reason for hard soil

Is it clay or chalk or simply sodden

I have a very light sandy soil but its far too wet and sticky to be even attempting to dig it right now

Rotovators have their place but large stones /lots of roots etc will hamper any progress

Too many people try to dig with a spade when actually a fork does a better job
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Re: hard soil

Postby arborlad » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:51 pm

despair wrote:Too many people try to dig with a spade when actually a fork does a better job


You're wrong - again!!

The spade is equal in efficacy to a fork, but it depends on all sorts of variables, personal preference, soil/weather conditions, soil type, previously dug or uncultivated, presence of weed roots, whether weeds are annual or perennial, whether you are digging in compost or manure, all will have a bearing on the choice of tool, the one thing a spade and fork should have in common is that they are clean and sharp.

One of the biggest problems I see with novices is not leaving a suffient gap between the dug and the undug, witout the gap, you are trying to move not just the spit you're trying to turn over, but all the soil in front of it.
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Re: hard soil

Postby julien1 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:09 pm

thank you arborlad but cant help youre more interested in attacking others than answering my problems about my soil and my potential new rotovator.
i will look into soil types in the region tonight but i didnt think it was a problem area, i am sure i have looked before, thanks for your help despair, il let you know what i come up with
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Re: hard soil

Postby despair » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:26 pm

Arborlad

I personally find it easier and more effective to use a fork

every soil is different just as every person is different

i even move and remove compost between 10 bins with a fork in preferance to a spade

equally i prefer border forks and spades as do many i know of both sexes
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Re: hard soil

Postby arborlad » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:36 pm

julien1 wrote:i have recently had problems with hard soil, possibly the cold weather but that eased off ?


Do you mean you're ground used to be workable but now isn't, has anything changed?

The ground wasn't frozen was it?
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Re: hard soil

Postby julien1 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:16 am

well its an odd one yes, we moved into the property just before xmas so i hadnt any time to look at the garden but of course i went out to see what was going on, you know survey my land type thing!! and it seemed incredibly hard but i put it down to cold weather, which has now eased off, the frost is totally gone and i would even call temperatures mild at the moment and the soil is still proving tough to budge... i havent been able to find out what soil in the area is like, it may just be quite clay based but i dont know, it doesnt look it in colour...
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Re: hard soil

Postby despair » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:06 pm

If its a new house maybe the builders threw any amount of cement etc around

If its Clay Soil its likely to be difficult especially if wet so best thing is to aquire loads of Horse Manure from a stables /livery yard

Spread that thick across the top and let the worms come up and do the work

Treated sewage used to be available too or spent hops
depends whats available in your area for free but the more humous you can get into the soil the better it will be in the long run

Clay soils take a lot of work but they do tend to grow many things far easier than lighter quick draining soils
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Re: hard soil

Postby arborlad » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:40 pm

julien1 wrote:well its an odd one yes, we moved into the property just before xmas so i hadnt any time to look at the garden but of course i went out to see what was going on, you know survey my land type thing!! and it seemed incredibly hard but i put it down to cold weather, which has now eased off, the frost is totally gone and i would even call temperatures mild at the moment and the soil is still proving tough to budge... i havent been able to find out what soil in the area is like, it may just be quite clay based but i dont know, it doesnt look it in colour...


Go and get a handful of soil, squeeze it, then tell us the results.
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Re: hard soil

Postby julien1 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:24 am

without meaning to sounds funny, it squidged into my hand... isn't that what any soil would do?!
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Re: hard soil

Postby despair » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:47 pm

Probably clay soil then and cant be that hard to dig

Try using a fork and pile on plenty of horse manure /spent hops etc as already advised
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Re: hard soil

Postby arborlad » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:08 pm

julien1 wrote:without meaning to sounds funny, it squidged into my hand... isn't that what any soil would do?!


Have you done any gardening before?

It may be better to join a local gardening club or horticultural association, lots of expertise there and they'll know what soil you're likely to have, if it is clay, then ash from wood fires is an excellent additive.

If you're still keen to mechanise, the pictured rotovator is unlikely to be heavy enough to do any serious cultivation, but may be useful when it comes to incorporating whatever organic matter you can obtain.

and the man seems to also be maintaining a lovely straight back


Probably because he has any height adjustment on the machine correct for him, although most of that type of machine have a very limited adjustment.

What area/county are you in?
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