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Rejuvenating Tired Soil

Posted by gardengirly 
Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 04, 2008 04:36PM
I have a raised garden at Opua, Bay of Islands, where I grow a few vegetables. The soil is very 'empty' and I'd like some ideas of how to rejuvenate it - or maybe turn the area into something else?

The area sits about 3-4 feet from the ground (you go up 4 steps to get to it) and is about 6 ft square. It is fully encased in concrete, so is more like a very big planter box (it will have been something else in another life, but we have no idea what - maybe a square water tank housing - not sure).

We bought the property last June, so don't have a history of it. I planted a few veg for the Summer but they didn't do that well. Because it's raised off the ground, the garden stays rather dry. We are on tank water and the tank almost went dry after New Year, so that didn't help as I couldn't water things very often. It's a holiday house, so we are there for 3 days every 2 weeks - longer over holidays.

I feel the soil needs some major feeding, so can anyone help with ideas? Compost, blood & bone, lime? All of them, or just one?

Would I be better using the area for something other than growing veges, do you think? I wondered about planting bushes that have berries to bring the birds, or maybe some flax for the Tui's?

I put in 2 tomato plants last October, but they only started to take off a couple of weeks ago. After years of no vege growing opportunities in the city, its been nice to at least pick my own tomatoes. I put in fancy lettuces and they were ok, however went to seed quickly (it's very warm at Opua).

All ideas welcome.

Cheers - Julie

Julie Simpson
Opua. NZ
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 04, 2008 07:26PM
Herb garden? Quite a lot of herbs like to be quite dry.

Lavender garden? They like dry.

Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 04, 2008 09:23PM
Hmmm - lavender garden. I like that idea.
Maybe I could develop something past that, using the lavender - thanks.
Good idea.
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 06, 2008 05:08AM
You could try a few Alpine strawberries.Birds dont eat them and they grow wild very well.I find good ones growing in my rockery(never watered)

Main thing is Mulch,mulch and more mulch to bring the soil up to a better quality.Helps to feed and retain moisture for the plants.
Herbs as mentioned will do well .Some fruits that appear for the time you are there may be alright too.

Wander around and look at other holiday places to see what is growing in similar soils and without much care.

Add as much seaweed to the garden too when you are at the beach .Just dig it in and leave.It breaks down the soil and also has a growth stimulant in it.
Becuase it makes the plants healthy they are less likely to get disease.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/06/2008 05:10AM by Lesley B.
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 06, 2008 05:44AM
If you plan to plant lavendar then don't feed the garden.
Otherwise I would add compost, lime and sheep pellets and probably some pea straw as well.
As you seem interested in growing some edibles how about doing it through the autumn and winter when rainfall is more reliable and then you can review your decision heading into next summer.
Leafy greens, brocolli, beetroot, parsley, rocket will all be fine. Being in Opua you may be able to plant more summer herbs through the cooler months as well as it is so mild.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/06/2008 05:45AM by helen.
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 06, 2008 05:47PM
Thanks Helen

I thought about lavender and maybe I am not quite ready to go down that track - I like the idea for the future.
Living in a townhouse with no garden, I do miss the ability to grow my own veg, so I think for this time I need to boost up the soil and keep growing things. A Winter garden would work at Opua because it doesn't get so cold.
Thanks for the tips - really appreciate that.

Cheers - Julie
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 06, 2008 05:49PM
Thanks Lesley
I think there may already be Alpine Strawberries growing there, but they had taken over so I have tried to get rid of them. Are you saying they are good to have? They are very vigorous.

Cheers - Julie
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 09, 2008 11:10PM
Have your alpines crossed with a normal one and developed runners?If so leave a few clumps but remove all runners as its nice to find something all year round.They also provide leaves and bulk to dig in or put in compost heap.

Alpine strawberries are the medicinal strawberry leaf traditionally used by herbalists and are not usually eaten by birds.

I collect mine up bit by bit in the freezer and love the jam they make.You get wonderful small whole berries in it.
Anonymous User
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 18, 2008 12:30AM
Hi there , you can sow some mustard seed or special lupin seed from the garden centre they will tell you how high to grow them then dig them in. This is a great way to recondition the soil. Im goning to do this to our vege garden soon before planting. All the best.
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 18, 2008 12:52AM
Thanks for the tip.
The veges I did plant this time are almost done - just a very vigorous cherry tomato still going like mad and the tomatoes very sweet now.
I have good information to rejuvenate the garden - next Summer should be a boomer.

Cheers - Julie
Anonymous User
Re: Rejuvenating Tired Soil
February 29, 2008 05:51PM
Julie, I would absolutely add several bags of compost in there and maybe a bag or two of peat moss if you can buy that from your local garden store. Remember, compost is acid so to keep a level in the ph of the soil, add some lime pellets. I put some in the hole when I plant and I then scatter them over the top of the soil later for the rain to slowly wash them in, a slow feed. This is important if you will grow tomatoes as the lime will sweeten them up quite a bit. The peat moss will help your soil to retain water and keep it from clumping.

Good luck with your special garden.

- Tony smiling smiley
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