This Article is written for new gardeners who need to fix their clay soil, and are willing to work hard upfront for quick results, and long-term success.
Clay soil is probably the most common type of soil you’ll find around your home, and no doubt it’s the reason you’re searching the Internet (trust me, I don’t blame you!).
Clay makes gardening- an already difficult hobby- even more strenuous. My goal as an experienced, no non-sense gardener is to get you exactly where you want be with ease.
I wrote this article in a way that lets you skip all the extra information, and get right to the important stuff. So, if you need to plant now, you’re in the right place.
If you can afford the time to let nature do the work for you, or you are unable or unwilling to put in large amounts of work upfront, then you’re going to want to click here to see my 100% organic and sustainable: 5 ideas for productive soil, or here to see my other article on Sheet Mulching.
But, if you are indeed in the right place, and ready to fix your clay soil, lets get started…
The little bits, which make up clay like to be packed very tightly together. Your first job is to create space for air, and water, and eventually roots. This is the part that will take effort. Gather up your best shovel, pick axe, or digging fork and get to work chopping and churning the top 6-12 inches of clay. You can try a roto-tiller, but the success of that machine will depend on your type of clay soil and moisture levels - I haven’t had much luck in my area, which is predominantly red clay.
At this point in the process you should be feeling a little sore (depending on the size of your garden), but take ease! The heavy lifting is done, and now its time for the most important part.
You’ve worked hard up to this point, I want to help you keep your work form being wasted. You will need one, all, or any combination of the following to mix in as soon as possible:
Sticks and twigs
Mulch or wood chips
Kitchen scraps or…
Really any organic compostable materials will do.
Mix as much organic matter into the clay as possible, and do it before it rains. The first rain will wash all your hard work right back into place.
All that new organic material you’ve mixed in will act to retain moisture, attract beneficial insects, provide a strata for beneficial fungi, bring in worms (natures tiny tillers), bolster the bacterial life within the soil, and stop the soil from solidifying over time.
To speed up the process further it is a good idea to mulch over the entire area with 1-3 inches of straw/leaves/wood chips or other readily available organic material to further lock-in moisture.
How much mulch you decide to use is completely up to you and dependent on what it is you want to plant … Oh that’s right, planting! The part we’ve all been waiting for. After all this hard work and effort it’s about time to get your plants into the ground. If you are using a lot of mulch then pull it aside for seedlings and water frequently. If you are going to be using transplants then they can be planted directly into the mulch and will thrive off the moist, nutrient rich environment.
This is furthest I will take you in this article, but for more information on planting resources, tips, and how-to’s, chick out some of the other article on infobarrel. Also, if you not too busy preparing and planting a beautiful garden (which you should be doing) head down the page a bit and leave a comment.
Thanks for reading, and the best of luck!