Checking Soil Condition & Type Before Planting

Ahh classic gooseberry and applie pie.  Not a classic in your household?  Ah well, if you have a large garden, which is on every family wish list when they start looking for a forever home, you can be sure of space to grow the gooseberrys, though the apples will probably take longer!  Taking time out to learn how to use the garden to its best is a really good time spent.  So often when we move in, were still reeling over the shock of the move and don’t have the time or common sense to start the garden bit cautiously and carefully.  Checking out the type of soil is critical for starters – no good planning it all out, only to find the soil is impossible to dig, move, sieve.  It will be 100% clay and will need some soil improver that comes in bags, rather like commercial compost.  It helps to break up the clumps if the product is spread over the baked clay in early autumn and left on for a few weeks.  Then in spring it could be possible to dig over a fairly clump free patch.  Once cleared of massive lumps, then it should be possible to dig over lightly and plant anything you want, presuming you have checked their sun and frost free requirements.   Seeing earth worms by the thousand and other beetle shaped visitors will confirm that you have good healthy soil and it won’t need much additional digging beyond that.  Pests can sometimes get the better of certain plants and these have to be kept under control.  Once the pests have been controlled with either natural methods, beer in jam jar or what ever, keeping the weeds and old grasses aside for hedgehogs and other timid mammals to make their nests with.