Thursday 12 July 2012

Reason not to dig 2: You can walk on wet soil

You can walk on the soil even when wet!

Correct advice to conventional gardeners is not to go on the soil after heavy rain. I do the opposite and rush out to plant. My soil is firm and settled, not loose and crumbly. Broken up, wet soil is susceptible to damage.
I regularly chastise Elaine, my bridge partner, when she delights in informing me she has been ‘fluffing up her soil today’. She thinks it looks nice. After years of my nattering, she does know it is bad for the plants and also the soil.
Some gardeners would say my settled soil is compacted. They would be wrong. Some experts would also tell you my soil is compacted. Still wrong! My undisturbed soil between plants becomes firm and cohesive. Below the surface, there is is a network of channels made by roots, worms and other soil organisms. It is well aerated and well drained.
Many gardeners wrongly consider ‘aerating’ the soil by cultivation is beneficial. It is actually harmful. Roots that might have benefited are ‘chopped away’. Nature doesn’t do that. I invite visitors to my gardens to walk on the soil and go wherever they want, whatever the weather. 
One day with my students, I histrionically illustrated my point by jumping on the wet herbaceous border screaming ‘YOU CAN JUMP ON IT  - EVEN WHEN WET’!

I have updated this post


  1. Got to love that clip!!!!!

  2. If I knew there was sound, I would have framed my words more carefully.I am now revealed for what I am to bloggers!

  3. Great video!
    Nice to know I can give up on 'fluffy' soil too!

  4. The problem is,Poppy, the soil is like a junkie. One cultivation creates the need of a fix of another. Loose soil 'slakes' down in the rain and becomes compact ( this is not like the 'cohesive, surface I described in my blog). To break out of this vicious circle you need to get the worms going! Mulch with garden compost or even give your soil a complete mulch of bark or similar.Stick with the blog and all the options will emerge. It will take a little while but your soil will become like mine!

  5. Thanks Roger, I'll bare that in mind. I have access to loads of horse manure, but often there are even more weed seeds in that!

  6. Thats a problem I have. I tend not to use FYM for that reason. But my escapades with FYM will have to wait!

  7. Mmmm. Sounds like there's a story there.

  8. Last winter, for the first time, I decided not to dig the plot over. I was amazed at how few weeds there were come spring. I guess digging spreads the weeds that have seeded. I definitely won't be digging this winter.

    1. yes buried weed seed can survive for fifty years or more.It retains its dormancy without the stimulation of factors such as oxygen and light.


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