Poor soil, poor plants? Diary of a Rocket Gardener

A few weeks ago I posted about my new strawberry patch, and the difference between those plants that were planted in the half bed that I had topped up with a generous amount of compost, and those plants that I’d planted in the half of the bed where I had run out of compost. The difference is more pronounced now that we’re into summer, but you can still see it in this photo from earlier in spring. The ones in the foreground are much healthier looking (and bigger) than those in the background:


More recently, my squashes and courgettes have been growing quite steadily, and again I have noticed a huge difference between those that I planted in one of my raised beds, with plenty of compost, and those that I planted in an area of the garden that I usually use for campfires and BBQs. I figured I wouldn’t be hosting many BBQs or garden feasts this year, so I decided to make use of the space. I covered it with weed membrane, cut a few holes and planted courgettes and squash directly into the soil.

The soil in this temporary squash patch is well compacted, heavy clay, and has been used for so many campfires over the past 5 years that there must be quite a lot of ash in there too. The plants are not exactly thriving. Yes, some courgettes are growing, but they are not the nicely shaped, happy looking courgettes that I am used to growing. The plants are big enough, but not as big as the squash plants in the raised bed, and certainly not as healthy looking. These plants do not have lush green leaves, and instead have quite a lot of discolouration, as well as powdery mildew.

I have fed them regularly with a liquid feed, but I think the soil quality is simply not ideal for them. It’s been interesting to see this, as often I wonder if I’m just adding compost to my raised beds because everyone else does, or because I’ve been told to by other gardeners in the past. But, really, looking after the soil does seem to be the best thing you can do for your veg plants, and adding lots of compost does amazing things!!