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Improving soil quickly and cheaply for veggie beds

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  • #256575
    Kristy
    Member

    I am sure this is discussed a lot through this board, but I didn’t know how to search to find what I wanted.

    I haven’t had much luck growing things in my soil this summer and I know it needs improving, it is a very sandy type soil. What would you recomment to improve it?

    Do I get a load of compost delivered? Not sure at what cost yet

    Do I buy a few bags of blood and bone or something?

    I’m quite the beginner so happy for any advice, at the moment the veggie beds are covered in pea straw and they have had a thin amount of horse manure and compost applied. I also grew green manure in them last winter. Is it a slow process and so I just need to be patient?

    #519775
    ballamara
    Keymaster

    compost is great. Do you have any home made? It’s cheaper than buying it and you know exactly what is in it. Manure is good but can be very strong and weedy. It all takes time though, but is worth the wait.

    #519776
    Erthgirl
    Member

    Bentonite Clay is really good for sandy soils… helps with water retention… From stockfeed places it only costs about $20-$30 for a 30kg bag.

    For our awful sandy soils over here in the west I use Josh Byrne’s ‘recipe’….

    Bentonite Clay (about 2 – handfuls per m2)

    Dynamic Lifter (or Organic 2000) (Compressed chook poo pellets… a couple of handfuls per square metre… )

    Sheep Poo (or any other poo… cow… )About a 9L bucket per square metre.

    Compost… just a thin layer all over….

    Water it all in with fish emulsion and seaweed solution and mulch with pea straw or lucerne.

    Keep it moist, and in a couple of weeks… you’re good to go…

    Works every time. :tup: :hug:

    #519777
    Steve
    Keymaster

    And on top of all listed above, I love green manure. It does take a three or four months to grow and then to break down but it made such a difference to my beds. And you don’t have to do the whole beds in one hit – I just build it into my rotation. If I have a bed (or part of a bed) sitting there, I’ll whack a green manure crop in.

    #519778
    roadwarrior
    Member

    I’ve had great success this year planting directly into fresh horse manure. If you have a horse racing track nearby combined with stables, you might find they give away bags of horse manure for free. This summer I’ve filled the ute three times.

    It’s taken a lot of elbow grease, but I now have patches of cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini and squash growing directly out of the manure which is about a foot thick.

    At the start of this season the garden was shoulder-high with weeds. I whipper-snipped them to the ground, then placed the bags of manure directly on top. At the end of the season once everything has been harvested and died back, the weeds are high again, and the manure has broken down, I’ll again whipper snip the weeds, dig a little and plant my winter crops of garlic and onions.

    At the end of the year I’ll do it all again.

    After a while I’m hoping the soil is so fluffy that I’ll virtually have a no-dig garden where the weeds are easy to keep under control.

    rw

    #519779
    Anonymous
    Guest

    how about spent mushroom compost from the farm if readily available it is cost effective.

    http://www.lensgarden.com.au/straw_bale_garden.htm

    len

    #519780
    Kristy
    Member

    how about spent mushroom compost from the farm if readily available it is cost effective.

    http://www.lensgarden.com.au/straw_bale_garden.htm

    len

    Len just phoned the local mushroom farm and they can deliver 20 cubic metres (smallest they do) = 8 tonnes wait for it….. $580.

    No idea how much 20 cubic metres is, but it does sound like a lot lol…

    #519781
    Kristy
    Member

    I’m loving all the suggestions everyone, I will definitely give you suggestion a try erthgirl, Steve I am going to grow more green manure in my beds this winter, not sure what sort of green manure to grow in summer.

    Road warrier I am trying to hard to buy a towball for my car and then a trailer or loan a trailer so I can collect free horse manure as lots of people offer it, but no way to collect the large quantities I would need.

    #519782
    BlueWren
    Member

    So horse manure doesn’t need to be aged? Apparently not!!

    #519783
    Steve
    Keymaster

    Re green manure, I grow oats and woolly pod vetch in winter and cowpea and Japanese millet in summer. But there are many options. I’ve even planted cheap birdseed and dug that in.

    Some good info here at Green Harvest:

    http://greenharvest.com.au/seeds/green_manure.html

    #519784
    Anonymous
    Guest

    kristy,

    wow they aren’t missing you hey?

    not sure but our bloke is 30 min’s away at highway time, he sells 1 tonne bag for 50 bucks can’t see him charging that much extra we would buy 4 tonne.

    but like i say whatever is cheapest really yours comes in at 72.50 per tonne delivered, dunno no mathematician but maybe 1 tonne = 1 cubic meter?

    what comparative cost for say 1 tonne of compost delivered, used to be $48 per cube last i bought it 12 years ago so maybe no cheaper. how about that recycle stuff from the local dump (take care can have some funny stuff in it. loathe to recommend it) usually free to locals or 2 cubes per year at least up our way.

    just think it wasn’t that long ago that the farmer had to pay to dump it the gardeners came sniffing and they used to give 15k bags away they went to .50c then upwards to around $5, guess the farmer like cane farmers makes more from bi-product than from mushies, bet it doesn’t go into the earning ledger?? never had a receipt issued in my life, anyhow at this rate they will price themselves out of business.

    len

    #519785
    donkeynomad
    Member

    I have a sheep farmer on the edge of our town. He has ultra fine merinos which are shedded for 8 months of the year. At this time of year when they are out in the paddock he sells all the manure/straw mix from under the sheds for $25 a ute-load. It is absolutely fantastic and I can build up my pure sand soil by speading it one foot thick or more, watering it in and then digging it in. Grows anything. It only takes a couple of months to break down into the sand and I can plant many things straight into it if I can’t be bothered digging.

    What I am trying to say is look for options around your area, ask people, go for a drive. Pick up any cheap manure or organic stuff from wherever you can. It all helps. Don’t be afraid to pay good money when you find a good supplier who delivers and you will get preference for delivery. Even if you can’t afford much, any little bit is better than nothing.

    [ul]

    [li]Horse studs/agistment places

    [/li]

    [li]Sheep farmers may let you clean out under their shearing sheds – can be a difficult job though with crawling and shovelling

    [/li]

    [li]Ask if your local landscape supplier can supply compost – there are some commercial composters nowdays

    [/li]

    [li]Ask at hospital kitchens or large organisations if they throw out their kitchen scraps – great for your own compost pile[/li]

    [/ul]

    It is difficult in the city but if you use some imagination and find out how different places dispose of their organic waste you might find some great stuff for your garden.

    #519786
    roadwarrior
    Member

    BlueWren post=337795 wrote: So horse manure doesn’t need to be aged? Apparently not!!

    All the advice I’ve ever received says you have to age the manure. If it was chicken manure then of course you’d have to age it, but seeds just love horse manure. One day out of the horse and I’m already planting seeds in it. A few days later and they sprout. Magic!

    The best thing I ever did was buy a ute. The alternative; a tow-bar and trailer.

    I also have three free bags of mushroom waste in the front yard, which I picked up from the Appin mushroom farm. It really stinks if you leave it in the bags for a while…which I have. Not looking forward to opening them! :sick:

    As a general rule, improving just about any soil can be done by adding copious amounts of organic materials. The better ones are those that are free.

    rw

    #519787
    roadwarrior
    Member

    donkeynomad post=337902 wrote: Ask if your local landscape supplier can supply compost – there are some commercial composters nowdays

    All of the commercial suppliers of compost that I know of cut their compost with sand to make more money. I’d estimate at least 50% by volume of even their premium blends are sand.

    Be careful you don’t waste your money on commercial products.

    I’d rather spend the money on a trailer.

    #519788
    Kristy
    Member

    A towball and trailer is almost cheaper then a the mushroom compost lol. Saving for the towball at the moment and then once I have that I will start looking around for secondhand trailers. All the free stuff I want I need to pick up in a trailer. Heaps of people give away free horse manure.

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