Herb garden soil improvement 

Until a year ago, the soil in my now herb garden had never been cultivated (apart from one sowing of clover as green manure). It is compacted and originally I had thought it was clay because it is so hard.

Having built two hugel beds in this area, a start has been made on improving the soil. That said, the bay tree planted on one of them is struggling a bit and most other plants have fared even worse. The best survivors are sage and a kale plant, which is onto its second year.

The soil next to the house is in the worst condition. I had thought of mulching it, which I will ultimately do, anyway. But the Honesty in the front garden produced so many seed parcels, which I couldn’t bear to throw away, I thought I would see if they self-seeds in the herb garden. The idea being that their roots would break up with soil a bit without me having to lift a finger and I would have more pretty flowers next year.


So far nothing has happened but I am loath to put the Honesty in the compost (municipal), so it will at the least become a type of mulch if a strong south-westerly doesn’t have it across the fields!

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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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4 Responses to Herb garden soil improvement 

  1. You’ve worked so hard to improve your soil, Helen. I’ve noticed this year, that the area I sheet mulched (to remove the lawn) is so much healthier than the front lawn that we simply allowed to die during the last year of the drought. Two years of organic goodness made the difference. I wonder if you could do something like that in this area? I layered cardboard, brown leaves, mulch and a variety of other organic matter. Once you get going with a garden, I’ve found that I want to plant every square inch. It’s wonderful and fun and exciting too, especially when you start seeing birds, bees, worms and others become part of your system. Good luck!

    • Helen says:

      Thanks for suggesting sheet mulching – I’d forgotten about all the cardboard I’ve stored for just that purpose!

      Anyway, great that you’ve noticed the difference between your front and back lawn following their different treatments. What kind of soil do you have (e.g. loam, clay)?

      Yes, it is great to see birds and other wildlife 😊.

      • Oh, terrific. I’m so glad you have cardboard on hand. I was surprised by how long it took to amass enough for our area. Suddenly, everywhere I went I had my eye on the boxes. San Jose is know for it’s clay soil, but that said, we used to be a huge agricultural valley and still do produce some crops, though the tech industry has pretty much laid waste to most of it.

        • Helen says:

          Clay is supposed to be fertile, so I can see why the valley would have been agricultural. If I’ve understood correctly, you live near Silicon Valley?

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