Where’s a pneumatic drill when you need one?

It being Monday, it’s home gardening day. This means, at the moment, digging another trench and filling it with kitchen waste and fallen leaves as well other green and brown matter from the garden itself.

Today’s trench was a bit more of a challenge than usual. Here is a photo once I had taken off what I assume was all the top soil.


I am not sure whether what I found at the bottom of the hole is builders materials or whether it is compacted subsoil or even bedrock.

After a quick search on the internet, I discovered that topsoil can be as little as 2-3 cm deep, so I’m doing well then. Mine must be about half a foot, going on today’s experience. I also learned that while bedrock would normally be a long way down, there might be circumstances which brought it closer to the surface.

Now, where I live was a mining area until 1983. In fact, the pithead is just up the hill behind my house. It’s been turned into a country park, still is in the early stages of development, and the rest of the land surrounding it has been turned into residential dwellings. However, this land might have been cleared at some point to extend the mine, for example. All I know for sure though is that there are likely to be mine shafts underneath where I live.

In any case, whatever is in my garden, it could be a reason why plants struggle at times. One clear example of this to compare apple trees planted elsewhere which are the same age as mine. They have considerably more growth on them – in other words, they are well established. On the other hand, mine is growing but is still not particularly strong. No doubt, the tap root is having a hard time getting through the hard stuff underneath it!

I will however persevere. To this end, I broke up the top of the rock (for wont of a better word) I found today, so that the roots of anything I plant have a better chance of extending themselves, and then continued with my original plan for the trench.

A final word: on my internet travels, I also learned that subsoil is actually full of nutrients and that root vegetables as well as potatoes seem to like it. So, will I have some success with parsnips next year?

© Helen Butt, December 2013

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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18 Responses to Where’s a pneumatic drill when you need one?

  1. andy1076 says:

    Oof, do be careful about going too far down then, wouldn’t want you vanishing into a mine shaft :O

  2. Fascinating post. I wonder if you can scrape a bit and have a soil sample done. If you grow edibles, it would be good to know that the minerals are safe. Selfishly, I’m just immensely curious. Interesting find!

  3. bridget says:

    Fingers crossed the parsnips don’t get lost down a mineshaft!!

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