Aeration is key to plant growth if you have clay soils. I have clay soil and was told that nothing grows. It’s quite challenging to get a garden going in it, be it corn or anything else. "The largest clay particle is more than 1,000 times smaller than the smallest sand particle." Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the Davesgarden.com. The secret to a successful vegetable garden, which consists of clay or sand, is to feed with lots of compost to improve your soil and to feed regularly. Take some soil, add a little water, and form a ball in your hand. Heirloom verities generally tend to do better in clay soil, some options for cabbage are Brunswick or Danish Ballhead. Back to the top Clay soil can be particularly tricky at certain times of the year and if you have ever dug clay soil you will definitely feel it. It wasn’t until my 8th year gardening that I found out first hand the challenges of growing in clay soil. Often maligned but full of potential, growing fruit trees in clay may have its challenges but with a little care and know how, it’s possible to grow a mass of delicious fruit even on thick heavy soils. Although these vegetables will do fine in clay soil, it never hurts to add 3 to 4 inches of manure or compost to the soil. Clay soil requires careful attention when you work it and is perhaps the most finicky soil type to deal with. Even where a clay soil contains for example 40 percent clay particles (a relatively modest content compared to heavy clay soils), the proportion of clay in the top cultivated part of the soil would have to be reduced by half to make the soil easy to work. by Anna Burke (Anna Burke) March 15, 2017. Clay soil can be challenging to grow vegetables in. Many gardeners think gypsum helps to loosen the tight texture of clay. break down clay soil in a planting hole Add powdered gypsum at the rate of two to three handfuls per square metre, then dig the soil over and water it in. Standing water and run off offer major challenges, and both can result in poor yields. Garlic is a hungry and thirsty crop, so add a mulch of organic matter or high-nitrogen feed after planting; on sandy soil, do both. Rough organic materials like straw, garden compost, chopped leaves, and weathered compost help aerate the soil and build fertility. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange sells seed of Hmong sticky rice. Sometimes I think cabbage will grow anywhere. Use a tiller, spade, or pitchfork to turn and loosen the soil at least 12 inches deep. Advertise | A broadfork makes this easy, and saves your back from dealing with heavy clay. If the ribbon reaches two inches long or more before breaking, this is a sign you have clay soil. 1 Asparagus (once established) -If you want to get started with asparagus, this shows you how. Mulching helps with more than just pathway preservation. Clay soil is much maligned by gardeners and homeowners everywhere, and no wonder: it’s heavy, sticky, and difficult to work in. BREAK DOWN CLAY SOIL IN A PLANTING HOLE Add powdered gypsum at the rate of two to three handfuls per square metre, then dig the soil over and water it in. Improving clay soil yields impressive results, but it does take time. ", "Zak, I don't know the answer to your question, and much depends on exactly where you are. However, clay can also be a rich growing medium, if you know how to work it. Claggy clay is not as big of a mission as you think, though it can be disheartening at the start. Planting of vegetables in clay soil is great for plants that have roots strong enough to penetrate the hard earth and compact clay. It is possible, but there is some hard work and expense involved. ), By clicking 'Add Comment' you agree to our Terms and Conditions, "Great article that came just in time! I planted a row of Blue Lake green beans, two rows of okra, 5 yellow squash plants and 4 cucumber plants. Chunky types of organic matter like garden compost, weathered sawdust, or chopped leaves will enhance the structure of clay better and longer than very fine materials like ground peat moss or screened compost. Tour | Within this context, understanding three commonly used gardening terms – texture, structure, and tilth – should help clear up one of the dirtier mysteries of gardening. Vegetables & Crops That Grow Well In Clay Soil. This is why clay soil can be rubbed into a sheen while silty soils tend to have a soapy texture. Other root crops, like daikon radishes and potatoes, help to break up a heavy clay soil. Apr 3, 2015 - Gunky clay is no one's idea of wonderful garden soil. How to plant in mud soil; well, this requires patience and work. Drawbacks of Gardening in Clay. Throw a spadeful of soil into the air and catch it with the spade. While some trees and shrubs grow well in clay, most annuals, perennials, and vegetables don't have roots strong enough to force their way through. Acer japonicum, palmatum (Japanese maple), Amelanchier lamarckii AGM, Betula (birch), Cratageus (hawthorn), Eucalyptus, Laburnum anagyroides, L. x watereri 'Vossii' AGM, Liquidambar styraciflua, Malus (crab apple), Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula' AGM (weeping pear), Sorbus Conifers for clay. Peppers typically prefer soil that is high in organic matter with good drainage. Plants cannot grow well, if at all, in compacted clay soils, which is why it is so important to wait until the soil is dry enough to work. (It will take several months to get the full effect. However, for a quicker option, for example, in planting holes, use a … Unfortunately, clay is the least desirable type of soil for successful gardens and the most … Maybe network with your neighbors to see what they grow? A few months after graduation she started a small sheep farm in Upstate New York with her partner. Enlarge them to 12 by 12 inches and fill them with rich compost. I respect clay soil's needs and quirks, and it pays me back with a fun and fruitful garden. Mixing existing clay soil with compost, sand, and slow releasing fertilizers or amendments like bone meal will improve both aeration and fertility, helping your transplants thrive. Let’s start with soil texture. ... it is in a small raised bed 16x4 and there were some branches and some non clay soil put in under the clay that got dumped on top by my husband with a head injury..so it is there and I need to work with it. Are you tired of wrestling with your clay soil? As you transplant, you can always add soil amendments to the hole. If you have noticed that water tends to puddle on the ground rather than soak in, it is likely your ground consists of clay. The boards distribute my weight so even the pathways get a little protection from extreme compaction. Another test is to mix soil with water in a jar and then look at how the sediment settles. Growing Vegetables in Sandy Soil. So, Nancy, here you go: Vegetables That Grow In Clay Soil. Lettuce, chard, snap beans and other crops with shallow roots benefit from clay soil's ability to retain moisture, and broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage often grow better in clay soil than looser loams because their roots enjoy firm anchorage. However, Don explained that any soil can be a good garden soil. Clay is, in the opinion of some, best left for throwing pots and not potting plants. ", "hie Instead, you can start using a long-tined broadfork to restore air to the root zone when renovating planting beds. Lettuce, chard, snap beans, and vegetables with shallow root systems do well in clay soils thanks to its moisture retention capabilities.