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Breaking up clods?

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  • Breaking up clods?

    Sorry, I've just realised I know very little about ground preparation after years of gardening in pots and gravel-I'm-pretending-is-soil.

    One of the beds we've dug over in the new allotment is now covered with rock-hard clods. What's the best way of breaking them up, please? The rake just moves them around....

    I didn't have so much of this problem with the first bed as I very thoroughly sifted through with my hands for perennial weeds, and in the process manually broke up the clods. We had to move a bit quicker with the second bed.

    All advice gratefully received!

  • #2
    Have you tried bashing them with a rake/cultivator instead? Works for me and if I pretend that each clod is someone I'm cheesed off with it's also therapeutic.

    When I dig a bed I try to throw the forkload high into the air so that it breaks up into finer lumps.

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    • #3
      I have this problem on my allotment, the clay sets into lumps of concrete. What I do is use a watering can with a fine rose to soften it up - a canful per 2 square yards or thereabouts. Then leave it for an hour. Bashing with a rake then breaks up the clods and lets me get some sort of tilth going.

      If you mulch it with a thick layer of homemade compost or something else organic this winter, you won't have the same problem next spring!
      My gardening blog: In Spades, last update 30th April 2018.
      Chrysanthemum notes page here.

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      • #4
        Like Martin suggested watering will help or it's a question of timing. Too wet and it is too sticky, too dry as you've discovered is concrete, but when the soil is somewhere in between it will break down nicely. I find keeping soil covered prevents it from drying out too much. Adding organic matter will help in the long term.

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        • #5
          I have this problem. The soil is too clay here. But very good generally. Because I have a small area only, I just use my hands. I find that the soil then goes rock hard like small stones in places. But in a prolonged heavy rain these do breakup noticably. So I'd get as many of the lumps on top as possible and I expect in the next month or so things will break up a lot at some point when it rains heavily. After that, I'd suggest going out soon after to hit any other bits with something to encourage them to break down more.

          And yeah, adding compost; that is what I am doing, adding last year's container compost into the soil. And leaf mould and other organic stuff.
          Last edited by Snow; 27-05-2015, 06:56 PM.

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          • #6
            Brilliant, thanks everyone. I've also read that it doesn't matter too much if you're planting out, and if you're sowing you can fill a drill with mpc and sow into that.

            Sorted. Thank you!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by 1Bee View Post
              if you're sowing you can fill a drill with mpc and sow into that.
              I'm trying a variation on this for my carrots this year. I make a V-shaped trench by pushing my spade in as far as it will go then wiggling it backwards and forwards; then fill it with used MPC (from last year's tomatoes) and sow carrots into that. The theory is that the carrots will at least be able got go down a spades depth before hitting an obstacle.

              Here's a picture to show the idea. I'll let you know how it goes in a few months...



              From the left: v-shaped trench, trench filled with MPC, carrot seedlings x 2.
              Attached Files
              My gardening blog: In Spades, last update 30th April 2018.
              Chrysanthemum notes page here.

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              • #8
                Thanks, Martin - and that looks exactly like my soil!

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                • #9
                  I have chalk and clay soil and the use of horse manure in the winter seemed to really help break up the soil. I will do more manure this autumn and winter as I only started the plot in the garden beginning of February.

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                  • #10
                    Hi. Sorry a bit late with this. I use a Draw Hoe to smash my soil down with. I find the flat part is good for the small lump and any big clay bits I split with the pointed edge. Use to use a hoe or a rake but managed to bust both of them
                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Martin H View Post
                      I'm trying a variation on this for my carrots this year. I make a V-shaped trench by pushing my spade in as far as it will go then wiggling it backwards and forwards; then fill it with used MPC (from last year's tomatoes) and sow carrots into that. The theory is that the carrots will at least be able got go down a spades depth before hitting an obstacle.

                      Here's a picture to show the idea. I'll let you know how it goes in a few months...

                      [ATTACH=CONFIG]56119[/ATTACH]

                      From the left: v-shaped trench, trench filled with MPC, carrot seedlings x 2.
                      Carrots love a nutrient deficient MPC in my experience, as it prevent them getting over vigorous and forking. Obviously the lack of stones, as you mentioned, helps as well. I always use last years potato compost... my only issue is that i'm forever watering them as I keep them in pots. Apparently netting over the veg patch is "messy", so I made some veggie mesh coats for carrots in pots.

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