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Hi Everyone,

I need your advice. We are thinking to move. One thing we want to take into consideration for choosing the place to move is if the soil is good for gardening. I hope to grow avocado and all other good fruit trees and vegetable. So how can I work it out if the soil is good enough for my gardening? Is there any organisation who can do the soil testing and give me a good interpretation of the test result?


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I have friends that had a house on the Brisbane River near Ipswich but they got flooded out in 2012. They moved near me here onto acreage -- a hobby farm set up -- AND BROUGHT THEIR SOIL WITH THEM!

That, may seem bizarre, but it isn't a bad idea because you get to inoculate your new soil with the old stuff you cared so much for.

Grass clippings compost very quickly so you need to keep laying them down. When I was doing it over the past decade I had three mowing enterprises dropping off their cut grass.

They loved me, because I saved them trips to the tip.

That's a lot of grass.

I'm still using lawn mown grass:

  1. We lay the grass clippings down,
  2. preferably cover them with cardboard
  3. then top up with a layer of woodchip mulch.
  4. We plant Vetiver thru/into that by using a crowbar digger.

Woodchips are a quicker way to build soil health but many species cut may have oils that purge the soil. Camphor laurel, Malaleuca, Sheoak, eucalypti, etc -- so they will take longer to impact to best effect.

When we plant thru the woodchip layer we drop a handful of composted cow manure in the plant hole at the base of the plant. Looking at our nursery today -- after the rain -- this protocol works.

Thanks Dave, We live at Morayfield on a 2 acres block. So we live not very far from you. I hope one day I can visit you to see the way you improve your soil. At our place, the soil is clay. The drainage is the big problem. Same as you, I do ask one mowing enterprises dropping off his cut grass to my place, and also I brough trailer loads of chicken manure from a chicken farm and pile it up over 6 months before I use them. I feel that the sandy soil like yours, we can add compost, manure and mulch to improve the fertility and water holding capacity. But for clay soil it is hard to improve its drainage. Even through we can use gypsum to break down the clay, if we want to grow avocado it is probably not good enough. After killing couple avocado trees, which we brought from Caboolture Sunday Markets, in the last few years, I grew avocado trees from seeds and tried different spots of my yard. After killing a few more trees, I manage to find a spot that three avocado trees survive over last two years and currently growing well. If they survive this summer, I will buy some grafted avocado trees or try to graft a few myself.

I have a  suggestion, based on research in Vietnam.

Plant your fruit tree with a Vetiver slip. Almost in the same hole.The Vetiver will piece the clay and maybe shepherd the fruit tree roots to go down further.

No skin of your nose. This partnering -- symbiosis -- is proving very successful.

The only drawback is that I haven't got available stock at the moment but drop around when I do and I'll give you a few slips to experiment with. I'm been busting to explore the Vietnamese trials here in Australia.

If you are on facebook, one of Tho Ngo's  galleries is here.

He is located just north of Hanoi.

I use the same principle among my veg. I plant Vetiver ever few metres.I used to grow a hedge around the beds  but I reckon it is best to get the Vetiver up close and personal where it can be intimate with my plants.

Thanks Dave, It sounds very interesting. I am definitely keen to give a try. Let me know when you have some for me.

Well Morayfield  has different environments and the various flooding preferences of Sheep Station Creek.

However, I point out that the excellent YouTude gardening channel, Self Sufficient Me, is filmed in  Bellmere on acreage and Bellmere shares a lot of aspects with the whole region in that part of the Caboolture River catchment.

If you haven't seen the videos, they are very useful and you may be able to relate to the property's soil challenges.

Thanks Dave, I did watch couple of their videos before, but did not know he is so close to me. I watched a few more after your message. I like them. I will go through more videos and articles, and I think I can learn a lot from them. You are really helpful, mate! Thank you!

I am in Camira and our soil is sandy loam. Must be alrright cause everything grows ok. Doesnt hold water that good but I have been working on that with the woodchip layering over the years. Also the blocks around here are often decent size

Thanks Doug, I have booked the garden visit to see your place in December. I am keen to learn how you manage your fruit trees. 

If have sandy loam could add some clay  and zeolite  with the organic matter as problem with clay is have too much.

Clay soil woes? This may be useful.:How Do I Improve Heavy Clay Soil in the Garden?

Jenna is a great teacher.

Dream of growing a garden, but have heavy clay soil? Wondering "How on earth do I improve this heavy clay soil?". No worries! I share multiple methods of improving heavy clay soil in this video, which in turn will improve the overall health and productivty of your garden! You CAN improve heavy clay soil AND have a happy, healthy productive garden! I asked myself this same question when I moved to a home with particularly heavy clay about 10 years ago. By focusing on the methods in this video, my garden soil has transformed beyond recognition, and gardening is so much more rewarding and enjoyable!

Thanks! Useful information.

Hi Joe

I live up the back of Narangba and the soil is essentially clay and shale, both supposedly nutrient banks. When we first built here 20 years ago I hired a guy and a bobcat with 600mm long tynes on the back and we ripped the planned fruit and vegetable area (350m2) and a separate rainforest area (250m2), I then added dolomite at the rate of 250 gms per square metre, meduim washed river sand at the rate of 1m3 every 10m2, and mushroom compost at the rate of 1m3 every 10m2, this was all then tyned back into the clay shale using the bobcat. Both areas were then well watered, courtesy of 2 days of steady rain and finally mulched using sugar cane bails. I left both areas sit for 12 months with only rainfall for moisture before planting any fruit trees and rainforest trees including Wurtz dwarf avocado, everything has grown very well. Over the years the soil has developed into good quality albeit a bit course, and is alive with worms, fruit tree roots have no problem penetrating through the soil, I do of course continue to add home made compost and mulch throughout the garden and also trench areas using vegetable scraps.

The only challenge I initially had was growing root vegetables like carrots and some types of beetroot directly into the soil due to it being somewhat course, I resorted to growing these types of vegetable in raised beds.

Hope this post may be of some assistance to you.



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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

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