A big part of our garden is based on an old tennis court that has been left for a few decades to overgrow. The court itself consisted of a about 10-15cm of cinder on top of the original clay subsoil. The cinder was surfaced with a fine layer of red material (clay?) and over the decades of neglect about 5-10cm of soil has built up from the leaves and other organic matter that has grown and rotted down on the surface. This soil is quite poor and dusty and supports mostly couch grass, bramble, moss in shady areas and various other “weeds”. During a hot, dry period the plants very quickly dry out and die back due to the fantastic drainage qualities of the cinder.
As a result we have two main limiting factors in this area of the garden, lack of soil and lack of water. Over the 12 or so years since we acquired this land we have been trying to produce more soil, partly by importing some topsoil and manure, and to improve its ability to retain water. Subsequent postings to this will describe some of the methods that we have used and hopefully report on how successful they have been.