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Our area is on a floodplain, gifted with rich topsoil but ribboned with clay.  When preparing a new garden plot, it’s not uncommon to dig into large layers of our native grey clay.  Clay is full of trapped nutrients and step one of releasing them is amending the soil.  Don’t waste this valuable resource by removing it when you can instead free the nutrients for your plants to use.  The first step in clay soil amendment is to add sand.  Clay is dense and will hold water, just like a bowl, added sand will eventually ware down clay but this takes years.  Plants will still need a more organic rich food source as the clay’s nutrients are slowly released.  After working in sand, you’ll need to add some form of organic material.  This can be a simple as grass clippings or leaf mulch.  We suggest Vermicast of course, but you could use compost and manure.  There is no quick fix to amending clay soil, to avoid chemical fertilizers a long-term plan works best.  Once you’ve established a yearly routine for sand and organic material additions, you’ll see great improvements in soil quality within three or four seasons.  Plants are an important tool in clay busting too, potatoes for example are a fabulous first crop in clay heavy areas.  Sun root was simple built for the job  and you should always employ the practice of mulching.  Leaf mulch or straw is very effective at not only attracting beneficial earthworms, the original tillers, but also continually produce new soil through composting right there in the garden.  Most food crops don’t require a deep layer of top soil, using the first six inches or so.  Having a water trapping layer of clay beneath this can be useful.

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