Grow Your Own Soil

good soil

You may remember I made the raised beds for growing your own. Part 2 of this, naturally, is to ensure that the vegetables of choice have a suitable growing medium, in which to grow.

Approximately 6 tonne of compost in this case was [number 1] horticulturally illogic and [number 2] extremely costly. In that order.

I [choose] chose my soil here with a couple of notes in mind. Before you read on, do bear in mind, it’s quite easy for me to know my soil just by looking at it and this below is my interpretation of what years of my mind, eyes etc are quite simply just used to looking at – it should help you:

Soil colour:
the closer to grey the more like concrete it will be. That is not good. The closer to black, the more better.

Stickability:
as you can see – it’s not clumped and is not sticking to the bucket of the Loadall [the machine]. Slides right off in fact.

top soil

Hey good Lookin’ :
I knew it had just been graded and graded well [see pic below] as it had some twiglets, small stones and the like running through it – this is a good thing from a drainage perspective.

Have a good Feel:
drive your hand straight into the middle of the heap just to check for consistency through the stock pile. Do this in 3/4 spots if you are unsure. Squeeze hard and see if it will clump form and then crumble apart or stick like marla/play-doh

You get what you pay for:
Within 20 tonne of good soil I might expect to lose about 2-4 barrows to excess debris. With these loads, I had not one scrap of waste.Yes I can get cheap soil. I can even get free soil…. all of which is your pal is Monty Don or Peter Donegan.

Why not compost Peter ? :
Take a look at any farmers field growing veg. See the miracle grow ? No. Yes, composts have their uses. For me generally, I use them to get seeds growing but – in short I wouldn’t rear a child on caster sugar alone. That’s my take. There are exceptions – but this is for outdoor vegetables not glass house crops like tomatoes.

What about Soil pH testing Kits ? :
I’ve never used one in my life. Well maybe on a few occasions when I was in college. For very specific consulting matters I have sent soil samples to Teagasc. But in short, Peat has a pH of 3.8 – 4.3 and compost  [peat treated with lime] has a pH of 5.8 – 6.3.

As a general rule – if you live on a bog [peat], then fair enough. But if you live in for example, a general Dublin urban type area – or – in my case the soil is being taken from there you have a rough idea the pH level will be around the 5.8 – 6.3 mark.

This will give you a more specific idea – take note of column 6 – the pH:

soil data acid brown earth teagasc

The above in reference to this piece of text – here I note the first paragraph:

acid brown earth

And there I shall leave it so as not to bamboozle anyone. Further reading, if you wish to do so is available online via this Teagasc research and also from the 1980 Soil Map of Ireland report
good soil

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