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I have for the 1st time moved to a little bungalow with a Garden (my previous home had a very small back yard) the Garden i have now, is coverd with weed suppressing membrane and lots and lots of Gravel stones complete with a surrounding path and stepping stones in between. I have taken up the path one side of the garden and bagged all the stones, the soil underneath has not seen the light of day for many years and is very compact, obviously no weeds or not even one worm! i am in the proccess of breaking it down, digging it over and adding manure ready for spring, my dilemma is, i dont know whether to then cover it to warm the soil or leave it open and plant seeds for green manure to dig in, in the spring. Would the ground benefit from air and light growing green manure or should i keep it covered?? any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank You. Sonia
Leave it open to the air so that frost can break down the soil further. If you want to warm it you can cover it for about six weeks before you want to plant.
Thank You Alina W. shall i still grow green manure on the open soil or leave it bare untill i cover and warm it up for spring.
I'm very impressed with all your good intentions for the future as I have become rather demotivated with my garden after such an awful summer. However, if you are digging in manure I don't think you have to bother with green manure in the same season. One of the problems I have found with manure is that it introduces new weeds into the garden and. come the Spring, you would then have to remove the weeds growing amongst the green manure before digging it in. Seems like the soil has been covered for long enough with the stones so I would definitely leave it open to the weather and the birds. You don't say how large your garden is but I would love to see some 'before and after' pictures in the future and best wishes with the project.
Sorry, here's another point of view:
One of the disadvantages of leaving bare soil over the winter is that nutrients tend to leach out of it. Some of the green manures have very deep roots, so can also help with breaking up compacted soil, so sowing now and digging it in in the spring might be of help. Maybe you could stack the manure and dig it in in the spring so you minimise the weed problem?
I'm glad you've got rid of the stones and the membrane. It's a good start.
It's likely that the soil beneath will contain lots of weed seeds that have yet to germinate. With some water and light many will germinate and grow by next Spring. Putting manure on top doesn't make a lot of difference to that. If used to cover the surface, manure may act as a mulch and temporarily supress the growth of some weeds.
As figrat has just said, the roots of green manure can help to break up the soil.
Personally I'd leave it open, and add manure (either brown or green), and let the air, rain, frost, and worms get to work. You'll have plenty of weeding to do in Spring whatever you do.
Thank You All so much, your comments and suggestions have helped alot. I will definately take before and after piccys, i suffer with arthritis in my legs/knees, so it will be a bit-daily im afraid, depending on our lovely weather, as i know that digging is not recommended in a downpour. I am learning alot from Gardners World, both the magazine and the show, i have a selection of Alan Titchmarsh's how to Garden series books, but i know talking to keen Gardeners is a must for hints n tips and gardening knowledge. Sonia
I had an area similar to what you discribe, covered with membrane and slate for many years, hard compact soil underneath with little or no worms. It was hard work but I forked over the area, found it was clay, so double dug in bags of mushroom compost, about a spade deep down. Left it uncovered and planted out in the spring. There were surprisingly few weeds and this year was the first full year with plants in and it still has few weeds, there has been the occasional mushroom though but all the plants are thriving and there are loads of worms.
If you decide to double dig, you may need help as it is hard work, but well worth it in the long run..
And the occasional mushroom, as you know where it's come from, is a definite bonus
Seriously, good luck with your new garden - it's lovely to hear of someone who undoubtedly has some intuitive gardening 'in their bones' and even better to hear that somewhere on this crowded island of ours someone has taken up some landscape membrane and shingle!!! Hurrah!!!
Thank You all for your comments - some gave me a giggle i will take some piccys and post if i can. Time to bring out the Voltarol i think!!! Sonia