Clay is finely degraded soil particles which form a thick pliable (when wet) consistency which holds water and fertiliser well but can have little air filled porosity (air spaces). Clay is hard to till.
Is large particles which have excellent air-filled porosity but very poor water and fertiliser capacity, sand is easily tilled but when it dries out it becomes extremely hydrophobic.
Is a good contrast between clay and sand and is easily tilled.
ROCK AND SHALE
Is often small to medium sized rocks and sand which have poor water holding capacity, little fertiliser holding properties and inconsistent air-filled porosity. Often very hard to till.
SUPER HARD COMPACTED SOILS
Australian soils have been left to fend for themselves for many MANY years, there are relatively few pockets of deep rich friable soils left and our rainfall can often inhibit the soils ability to perform,
Whichever type of soil you have it will benefit from the addition of organic matter. Organic matter adds all things we look for in soils, it adds air, water holding capacity and has an excellent cation exchange capacity (fertiliser holding properties) There are a few different ways to add organic materials to soils.
Mulch your garden thickly and often. The smaller the particles size of the mulch the quicker it will break down, it will also need to be reapplied more often. The larger the particle size the slower it will break down and you will have to apply it less frequent. Mulch will be transferred through the soil profile by water, animals, and bacteria.
- Sugar cane mulch (and other fine mulches) are fine and will break down quickly, as a mulch it needs to be reapplied often as it breaks down quickly. We recommend you put a thick layer of this under your wood chip mulch.
- Wood chip is a larger particle which breaks down slower so it needs to only be reapplied once or twice a year. This is an excellent topping in your garden as it is excellent at suppressing weed growth as well as supplying a slow form of organic matter.
Compost is the king of the garden, homemade is often best but any will do. Compost adds all the items we look for in a garden. Compost is broken down organic matter. It’s fine and looks like dirt. It is not green and should not smell gross it should smell “earthy”. Compost can be made at home in two ways, slow cooking and long cooking.
- Slow cooking compost – pile your organic matter in an out of the way position, (this method may take a year to give results) 1/3 dry leaves, straw, newspaper or ash with 2/3 green lawn clippings, tree trimmings or green waste. Add a few shovel loads of your favourite garden soil to the top of the mix (soil inoculator) to add the beneficial organisms and about 2lt of chicken poo per 200lt of compost. Leave the compost to sit and wait for the product to turn to dirt like compound.
- Hot cooking compost – promote’s the use of naturally occurring bacteria. These aerobic bacteria (oxygen bacteria) break down material faster, producing less odor, fewer pathogens, and less greenhouse gas than cool, uncontrolled, or accidental anaerobic bacteria methods (oxygen deprived bacteria).
We still use the same ratio of garden waste and the addition of nitrogen and a soil inoculator but we also employ the concept of turning the pile to allow the bacteria the oxygen it requires to transform the waste into compost. Simply use a monitor to monitor the heat within the pile, the temp of the pile will sit between 50-60 degrees C, as the pile cools by 5 -10 degrees C we turn the pile.
The pile will heat back up and continue to break down. As your pile becomes closer to ready it will cool quicker i.e. In the first few turns you will see the pile heat and stay hot for 10 days as it gets ready it may start to cool in 3 -5 days. A well managed“hot cook” can turn finely cut green waste into compost in 30 days. Most “hot cooks” will take around 60 days.We use the composting process heavily in the nursery in the production of potting media, we use a very special recipe but the principles are the same.
We understand that your project may be a little garden, only a few plants or a bit of a makeover. You might not have the room, time or desire to make your own compost. THAT’S OK! you can get a wonderful result from bagged composts the trick is to know what you’re looking for.
How do I get my organic matter to where I need it?
- Dig it in, heavy hard work but it immediately adds the organic matter to where it is needed and is the most beneficial
- Apply it to the surface. Easily added but taken many years to trickle through to the root zone
What do we recommend to do?
New gardens, get in a small machine (kanga, bobcat) and dig in a generous amount of organic matter while you can, break up the soil with deep rippers and use a rotary hoe it smash the ground and insert the compost.
In rocky ground mound your gardens so you don’t have to spend money on expensive heavy machines. Use sleepers or rocks, or logs or anything your imagination can think of to retain the garden beds.
In clay ground get the ground ripped or rotary hoed and add organic matter and gypsum. Then also mound the garden beds over the top of the clay base, this will help with drainage and the plants will grow into the clay at there own pace.
In older gardens with plants add a thick layer of compost in open areas on top of the ground. Don’t pile the compost around the tree and shrub stems, this will entice rot.
Keep a band of around 20cm away from the trees.
Once you have added your compost add you fertilizer, blood and bone on natives and chicken poo on exotics. Then add a 10cm layer of mulch over all the compost and garden beds. This will stop the compost blowing or washing away and suppress weeds
You will need to reapply your mulch every six months, and if you have it ready a light application of compost and fertiliser under that.
What should we not do?
Don’t add green lawn clippings to your garden, it matts an does not allow in the water, it will also use all the nitrogen in your garden to break down
Don’t add fresh horse or cow poo, its just digested green grass, it need’s to be broken down too!
Don’t add saw dust, it is extremely hard to compost and has a disgusting habit of become hydrophobic (water repellent). It can be composted and then added to the garden once it looks like dirt
Don’t keep trying the same type of plant if it keeps failing, plant more of what is succeeding in your garden.