Can a hard pan be eliminated with no-dig? Or do I need to double-dig first? I have inherited a typically under-nourished, over-rotavated allotment plot and after a number of years of adding compost, muck etc and avoiding the double-dig option, I am wondering if I should be double-digging the whole lot and starting again with no-dig? It’s a very silty soil, and alkaline.
Without more information, such as how your different veg have been growing, how water soaks in during heavy rain, what is causing you difficulties and what weeds predominate, I cannot answer for your allotment.
I see the phrase “hard pan” a lot and am intrigued by how it is different from a pan, which by definition is hard. Your crops and weeds are the indicator.
I suspect that someone on the allotment has worried you, from seeing that you are no dig.
But if you yourself are finding poor growth, despite your improvements with organic matter, then one loosening with a garden fork will break the pan. It can’t be very deep (if it is there) because rotovators, the main cause, do not pass more than 5-6in (12-15cm) into the soil.
It’s a pan and it’s hard?! I had assumed because it is there, it must be an issue and I should get rid of it but, from your comments, maybe not.
The veg does OK (hit and miss, depending on the season with some things doing well one year, others the next), the weeds do even better (willowherb thrives and dock, couch and bindweed if I let them).
The soil water-logs quickly and then dries out quickly (setting like concrete in patches that haven’t been improved with organic matter) but I think that is down to the soil texture rather than the pan – it’s extremely silty.
Thanks for taking the time to respond – your Winter Vegetables book is one of my gardening bibles…..the timings for plantings, in particular, are great.