End of the lime & fertiliser experiment

Well the results are in on my little lime vs fertiliser experiment. The results weren’t quite what I expected, which is in some ways more interesting. The grass certainly grew more lushly where the fertiliser was applied which was not unexpected but there was little difference between the grass with lime applied and the control patch where nothing was done.

Now, I thought the grass would grow better with lime and probably better than the grass with fertiliser. But this wasn’t the case. Since I started the experiment, I’ve tested the soil and the results of that casts some light on the reasons. I’ve also chatted about it to a few knowledgeable people who threw some ideas into the mix.

  • Not only was the soil acid, it was very acid and the amount of lime I added was about a third of that required to really lift the pH. Plus lime takes a while to work, which is why it is usually applied in the autumn.
  • Even with the pH raised, which makes nutrients more available, there are no nutrients to speak of in the soil. Making nothing available is still nothing!
  • The grass here has grown on acid land for many years so it’s made up of varieties adapted to the soil. Although a higher pH will help the grass by reducing the amount of moss growing. The less moss, the more room for grass.
  • I was told that what I should have done was to lime in the autumn and then run the experiment again after fertilising. This would have demonstrated that the lime reinforced the effect of fertiliser.

Well, I’ve never claimed to be a scientist but it was interesting and I’ve learned a bit as well as being reminded of a few basics. I’ve often noticed how beginners do well growing their own. They follow the ‘rules’ whether from a book or even just the back of the seed packet. Often it’s those like me who are more knowledgeable who go wrong because we forget the basics.

We narrowly missed a frost the other day and certainly temperatures are dropping now. So the season is closing. In the surrounding fields the sheep have gone to the lower pastures as the grass won’t be growing once daytime temperatures fall below 8 degrees C.

My job now is to try and get some raised beds set up ready for next year. That’s a task we planned on doing last year but between the winter and everything else we didn’t. Still, some of the important infrastructure is in place. I’ve a great garden shed set up, the base of the greenhouse is ready and the greenhouse should be here this week.

I’ve been assured it will stand up to the wind here and it’s in a fairly sheltered position so fingers crossed it will be here in the spring. Especially when growing in ‘challenging’ conditions like we have, a greenhouse is immensely useful. If I get chance I’ll be building a few cold frames as well. They’re great for that intermediate stage between the pampered greenhouse and the cruel outdoors.


Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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