We’re new to this. That means we won’t always think to do the right thing at the right time. Having spent months thinking about weeds as we’ve been clearing them, we’ve suddenly realised that we should have been thinking about the soil.
Our soil is heavy, with poor drainage, especially at the flatter, bottom end of the plot. The standard remedies for that are to dig in either sand or lots of organic matter, and to build raised beds. Adding sand is a holding measure that improves drainage but does nothing to enrich the soil. We’d love to build raised beds somewhere down the line but will need to get hold of about 100m of wood to do so. That leaves adding organic matter, which usually means manure.
Our soil is also acidic. One indicator of acidic soil is creeping buttercup, which our plot was covered with from top to bottom. A cheap, DIY pH test confirmed this, giving a reading of about 6, which is higher than we feared but lower than the 6.5-7 that you want to grow most veg (and adding manure would take it still lower). The standard remedy for acidic soil is to add lime.
Unfortunately, you can’t add manure and lime at the same time, or you get an unpleasant reaction and the nitrogen is lost. Had we thought about this months ago, we could have made adding lime a priority then, and we’d just about be ready to add manure now, ahead of the growing season. But no, we were too busy thinking about the weeds.
The fall-back plan is to lime now (which we made a start on yesterday), and then top-dress with manure later, when we can. It’s not ideal, but will have to do for now. And at least we know to think about this earlier next year.