New topsoil chosen for edibles garden at RHS Garden Hyde Hall

The recently-launched HortLoam topsoil has been chosen as the base planting medium for the new RHS Garden Hyde Hall Global Growth Vegetable Garden

HortLoam is spread on to the vegetable beds in the Global Growth Vegetable Garden
HortLoam is spread on to the vegetable beds in the Global Growth Vegetable Garden

The new edible garden, currently under construction at the garden in Chelmsford, Essex, has taken delivery of 360 tonnes of the HortLoam soil, produced by British Sugar TOPSOIL and launched this June. Two parts to one part native clay and green waste is being used.

The idea is to produce an open, friable and humus-rich medium ideal for growing vegetables from around the world.

The new garden has been sponsored by Witan Investment Trust and designed by Suffolk-based garden and landscape designer Xa Tollemache. Her circular layout for the garden is sectioned into four quarters with each representing a different continent: Europe and the Middle East, Asia, North and Central America, and South America.

The planters were first dug out to a depth of 900mm and then backfilled with 450mm of native clay soil. The top 450mm was filled with the HortLoam/native clay/compost mix and the beds rotavated to level them off and assist with blending and settlement. Planting of the vegetables will take place in the spring.

HortLoam contains coarse sand and additional reserves of organic matter in the form of BSI PAS 100 and CQP compliant ‘green’ compost, giving it a more open and free-draining structure. Its coarser texture is ideal for vegetable planting schemes of this kind and provides the optimum environment for establishing young plants and encouraging healthy root growth.

Hyde Hall edibles expert Matthew Oliver, who this year grew the biggest UK pumpkin grown outdoors – weighing 605kg - at the garden’s old edibles garden, said: "We need a soil that can provide a fine enough tilth for sowing a broad range of vegetable crops from year one. It takes a long time to get our existing clay into this condition so I am pleased that HortLoam, which is easy to work and mixes well with the existing soil, was chosen to get the garden off to a great start."

National TOPSOIL Manager Andy Spetch, who has been working on the Hyde Hall project, said: "British Sugar TOPSOIL is proud to be involved with this incredible scheme and we are very confident that HortLoam will do a great job and produce strong, healthy plants. It is the ultimate showcase to demonstrate the effectiveness of our latest product to the public and to the landscape industry and we are very grateful to the RHS and to Matthew Oliver for giving us this opportunity."

Work started on The Global Growth Vegetable Garden will open next summer with produce used in Hyde Hall’s onsite restaurant. It is hoped that visitors will be inspired to grow their own vegetables as a result.

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