NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Am I doing the right thing?  (Read 919 times)


  • Joined May 2016
Am I doing the right thing?
« on: February 14, 2018, 09:03:10 pm »

I moved my pigs into the back garden, well a section of it a few weeks back, to clear it from all the overgrown brambles, nettles and grasses. They've done an excellent job.

I'll be moving them off to another area in a week or so and getting the newly cleared area ready to plant.

Our soil is fairly heavy clay so I was going to some sharp sand and spread it over the cleared area, then I was going to get a rotavator and bring it all together.

So is this the right thing to do? And will I need to do anything else to prep the soil to the sought after fine tilth for planting?

I've got several hundred summer bulbs that id like to get in and make a nice area for the bees which are coming in May to visit.
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Am I doing the right thing?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2018, 10:44:54 pm »
The usual thing with heavy clay soil is to rough dig or plough in the autumn and leave it exposed to the action of the frost over winter.  This breaks the clumps apart with minimum effort.  It depends where you are in the country whether you can consider winter over yet - here we have three more months to go!
Although you want big lumps of clay to break up, you don't want it so fine that it forms a crisp crust on the surface, which makes it difficult for seeds to germinate.
We found that when we had pigs to clear our veg beds, at the depth their toes went down in the mud was where a hard pan developed.  This needs to be broken up to allow for better drainage, so if you rotavate you need one which goes deep. If the ground is sticky and builds up on your boots, don't work it until it dries out more.
 It will take a lot of sand, but if you add that every year, plus plenty of garden compost, grit, and peat if you use it, then your soil will improve over time.
Good luck with your bees - are they hives or wild?  :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee:

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie


  • Joined May 2016
Re: Am I doing the right thing?
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2018, 08:11:56 pm »
thank you for the good tips and pointers.

I'll be holding off a few weeks for the sightly warmer weather to hit.

I've got to get the rotavator so will make sure it digs it deep enough.

bees will be hived (first time, so course starts in may)


  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: Am I doing the right thing?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2018, 12:49:24 am »
A different solution to a spring clay allotment is ...

Get  a load of bales of straw spread on th soil ( not hay  ..... it's full of weed seeds  ) put the pigs back on it so they pee & poo  on it , as well as getting rain on it to start breaking it down .
 Then a month later rotovate it in , it will turn to a composted urine & dung soaked compost  . That will help the clay particles adhere to the compost & form crumbs , adding a bag of gypsum per 3 sq mtrs will also help , again deep rotovate it . The first cuople of years will not show much but by the third year you should start seeing a good fertile friable soil . You can then mulch it with a dung & urine based straw compost made to " The Berkley 18 day  hot composting method " .
Using gypsum in the form of plaster powder  rather than garden lime  means that the PH of the soil is not changed as muchas it would using lots of lime .   Clays usually have nearly all the nutrients need for a crop to grow if you can break it to friable soil .

 One of the worst blue brick yard clay allotments I had  got a foot of seven year old vets stable cleanings all over it plus four inches of untreated wood yard sawdust & ten bags of gypsum plaster .

This was then  rotavated in to about 22 inches deep , over a dozen or more runs around the allotment .
 I grew potatoes on the plot for the first year ,  simply digging a 6 " hole two feet apart along taught lines three feet between rows.
 The umbrella of those potato leaves smothered most of the weeds that germinated , any that poked though I pulled out .

 I'd used Round Up to clear a 10 x 10 patch for a seed bed & left out the saw dust as saw dust will take some of the nitrogen out of the soil as it needs larger amounts of nitrogen to cause the saw dust to decay .

I then put the crumbed soil through a fine sieve to get all my seedlings for the rest of the plot 6 x 30 yards.

 Tip .
Bees are affected by the magnetic impulse of the HT spark of the rotovator as well as getting irritated by the noise & vibrations from it .   It might be prudent to get the work done before you site your hives there.  Same goes if you are using a petrol strimmer  near the hives

 As it's currently warmer earlier this year you may well start seeing swarms issuing from hives or feral nests by 10 April  if the weather turns foul by about the 22 April . So you'll need to start checking the bees for queen cells from the first of April.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 11:11:18 pm by cloddopper »
Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting


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