Tips from Olle Garden Bed: Clay Soil Improving

Don't let clay stop you from having a beautiful garden. There are many simple (and organic) methods for correcting heavy soils. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

There is no doubt about it. Working in thick soil is a pain in the back. It sticks to your shoes (and your tools) and is sometimes considered more challenging than gardening with sand. But for all the hard work, clay has its advantages. In other words, it can nourish life giving plant nutrients and maintain water better than other soil types. With some soil amendments, you can turn the clay into rich humus and fertile nutrients, and your plants will thank you.

raised garden bed

Correction clay

There is a view that adding sand to thick clay can help reduce weight, but this is a myth. In fact, 99% of the time it will turn your ground into cement. The soil treated in this way becomes so hard that worms cannot live in it. Instead, contact organic matter, such as compost, leaf mold, and rotting feces. Organic matter is the best way to correct clay: it reduces soil texture, prevents compaction, increases nutrients, improves drainage and ventilation, regulates soil temperature, and provides pore space, which is crucial for plant growth.

It takes some time and patience to modify your soil, but it will reward you many times in the end. The first step should be to add as much organic matter as possible and mix it as deeply as possible into the existing soil. Before starting, please conduct soil test so that lime, phosphorus or any necessary improver can be added when farming in organic matter. If you are creating a new bed, it will be much easier.

Start the process by using tillers to loosen the existing soil (if it is a large area) or shovel (if it is a more manageable size). Approximately 2 inches of compost is spread on the cultivated soil and then disposed of. Repeat the process twice more. Remember that if the clay is relatively dry, you can only work in it. Working or walking on wet clay can seriously damage the structure you are trying to improve.

raised garden bed

It will take more time and effort to work around the existing plant. Autumn is a good time to do this, because the weather is usually drier and cooler than spring. You can even use it as an annual part of your winter garden sleeping.

Sprinkle a few inches of compost on the ground between the plants and use a narrow shovel to turn the compost into soil. Repeat at least once, then plant it, making it part of your daily work. Always work in such a way that you walk backwards, not on the soil that has just been turned over.

Regular application of compost, manure and other organic matter over time will improve soil structure, tillage and overall health.

The last sentence about clay gardening: choose plants that naturally adapt to clay growth. It's always better to use what you have than to try to completely change it. Happily, for our thick clay gardens, there are many beautiful plants to choose from.

Imitate the way nature works. In wild areas, stems and leaves fall on the ground and decay, correcting the soil from top to bottom. In order to follow the steps of nature, cover the barren soil with organic substances (such as leaves, hull or bark).

raised garden bed

Use the most easily available organic materials in your area. Whether it is leaves, pine needles, hulls or seaweed, they are all useful for soil improvement. Don't believe the old myth that pine needles or oak leaves make the soil acidic; This is not the case.

When using leaves for covering and improvement, use a lawn mower or chipper to cut them. Chopped leaves can be left in place to suffocate weeds and decompose faster.

Apply a top-down soil conditioner in layers only 2 or 3 inches deep to allow rainwater to seep through.

Use the power of root system to decompose heavy soil and add organic matter. Plant marigolds, marigolds or other annual plants in the new garden and cut them off on the ground at the end of the season. The root rots in the soil, improving the soil structure.