Thursday, 24 May 2012

Gardening Experiments

The last few years have been pretty wet for us and two of the four veggie gardens that I created are not raised so the wet conditions have made growing some things challenging.
The two non raised garden beds have timber sleepers for edging so I have been trying to raise the soil level by introducing lots of compost and organic matter but it takes a lot to raise the soil level of the 16 sq metres of each garden bed.  There was the option of buying soil but not only is that an expensive option but you can never be sure what you might be introducing to your garden.
So I am trialing another method using bales of sugar cane mulch, which is fairly cheap to purchase here in Queensland.
What I have done is dug a channel the length of two bales end to end and put the bales on their side so that they were 1/3 below the original soil level and 2/3 above.  Then I have left a gap of 50 cm and repeated the process twice more till I had 3 rows of 2 bales running parallel to each other.  Then I dug another trench across the gap of each 50cm space on the downhill side (there is not much fall at all really) and placed another bale in each of these.
So now I have a big W shape and all of the soil that I dug out of the trenches was put back in between the bales and mounded against them on the two sides and the top.  The soil was full of worms and I was not happy to have to disturb them but hopefully this little experiment of mine will benefit us all.
I am hoping that there are benefits other than the good drainage here.  I am hoping for the following:
Increased soil temperature as the bales will act as a heat source as they break down.
The above soil level height will provide some wind protection for young seedlings.
The worms setting up home and turning them into soil for me.
Being able to plant directly into them in the future.
Extra organic matter for my soil.
Better soil structure.
I further enriched the soil in and around the baled with blood and bone and dynamic lifter and have planted out some brassicas and tomato's (another experiment).  The whole lot was then watered in with seaweed solution and left to its own devices.

Because I have two garden beds side by side and only one of them has the bale structure in it I will be able to measure the soil temperature and test to see if there is any difference.  I'll possibly forget to do it but hey i can if I want to.

Do you have any experiments happening at your place?


  1. I love sugar cane mulch - have only been using it this year, but I love how it is fine and tucks around the seedlings. If you have lots of worms then I think it is a sign that you have good soil.

  2. We have only just resolved our water issues here so only just getting stuck into the garden now (the water pump was stolen and it's taken this long to deal with the insurance company and get a replacement). However, we are having this very debate at the moment - raised beds with sleeper edging versus non-raised beds. Will be interested to see how you get on with your method there - good luck!

    1. Mel that is sad about the pump as they are not cheap. Raised beds are great if you are like me and have to fight the grass out.

  3. Ooh ooh! I have done similar at my place but for a different purpose. I've been meaniing to do a post on it, so I'll try to get to it this week. I'll link to yours if you don't mind, because I think it's good to share around ideas.

  4. What an interesting idea...can't wait to see your follow up posts...unfortunately not much experimenting going on here at the moment...just trying to keep the patch weed and pest free although we are trialling our new pallet compost bin system!

  5. looks like a good idea, will be interesting to see how it works, especially if it helps keep the soil warmer! Always looking for ideas to help with our frost situation. Only experiment is the small greenhouse for frost protection, seeing if I can keep chilli and eggplant alive over winter so I don't have to start again in spring!

  6. We have been leaving the spent hay in with our alpaca manure over the last year. When I was finally planting our garden last weekend I noticed that the soil was quite warm... I wonder if the spent hay had something to do with it.


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