boggy marl soil Wexford

elaine mccarthy asked 12 years ago

We have a large garden with heavy marl soil that water sits on after rain. In dry weather in summer it dries and cracks. Is it worth while trying to drain this?. The soil can be dark and sticky and is difficult to dig. Last spring I tried to grow vegetables and fruit bushes in a raised bed. This bed became waterlogged also. I had dug in manure and compost. Should I try again with a higher bed? I also want to grow a hedge, something that likes its feet in water.

1 Answers

Gerry Daly Staff answered 3 years ago
Marl soil in the Wexford area is derived from marine clays pushed up onto the land by glacial action thousands of year ago. It is heavy soil with a relatively high proportion of clay, soil being normally composed of sand, silt and clay, in order of fineness of the particles. This explains why soil heavy in winter is hard and dry in summer. Bricks are made of clay.

It is difficult to drain as water takes long time to percolate through it but draiange does healp and needs to be set close together, with land drains even two or three metres apart.You can also try to change the structure of the soil with large amounts of organic material, 5 kilos and more per square metre, such as manure, mushroom compost, straw etc. Or you can pile up organic material and grow on top of the heavy land, in beds, either with support sides or not.

On the plus side, these clay soils are usually very fertile and do not dry out in summer, once you learn how to handle them, and timing of operations is very important because the soil gives uyou a narrow window between too wet and too dry.

Try hornbeam and/or holly to grow in heavy soil.