I have pure layered tan clay and access to a lot of horse manure that I compost a hundred yards at a time. My question is how much compost should I mix with the clay to get a pretty loose soil. The clay is like concrete when dry.
Hardiness Zone: 5
Robyn from Kingston, New York
A big problem with clay is the "bath tub" effect. This is where you have composted/amended the soil down inches and then plant-- but the clay is still down there acting like a bathtub, which then stunts the plant by stunting root growth not to mention holding more water than perhaps the plant can use, causing root rot. I know, that isn't your answer.
As I understand it, clay has all the nutrients that plants need but they can't get it because of the tight bonds.
I suggest you obtain some gypsum, dig your clay, mix in the gypsum with the clay and let it work a spell. How long is a spell (Southern term)? I turned my garden in the fall, sprinkled the gypsum pretty heavily over the clods and tilled it in the spring. I could see the clay literally crumble through the winter. The gypsum combines with the clay and breaks the tight bonds that makes clay so hard.
If I dug the clay out of my garden space, I would put a good layer of gypsum at the clay bottom of the space that was dug out, sprinkle the clay liberally with gypsum, mix your composted manure at a least a 2 parts compost to 1 part clay. and put it back. I hope that is clear.
Read Ann Lovejoy! Her book turned all my old ideas upside down. You can drain bathtub beds by putting a post hole filled with rocks under them. Good soil should be one-third sand, one-third clay, and one-third decaying vegetation. You can guesstimate how much sand is in your clay by rubbing it between thumb and forefinger. Raised beds are better draining, but ground-level beds don't get over dry so easily, so you may as well split the difference. Wish you could bring me ten or twenty yards of that horse compost!
Add your voice! Click below to comment. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!