Help! Do I keep digging?

Total newbie in need of help!
We've had so much rain here. Do I try to keep on digging on wet sticky clay soil or wait a bit until it gets a bit drier? I've tried to dig in sand and compost, but end up in a squelchy, sticky mess. Am I compacting the soil more by continuing?
I would like a veg patch and I'm very conscious that seeds (green beans, peas, sweet corn, etc) need to be planted by now. Any help would be gratefully received.
Ellie
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ElleJay


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On Mon, 20 Apr 2009 11:36:38 +0100, ElleJay

Where are you located? Corn and green beans both like fairly warm soil to germinate. I've got my peas in (mid TN) but will wait a week or so before putting in beans. (No corn for me this year.)
I would wait until the soil dried out some - I've ended up with rock sized soil when working it too wet.
Kate
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ElleJay wrote:

Yes you are making it worse. Try not to work clay soil if it is wet.

Better to wait a bit until the soil dries somewhat unless your growing season is critically short.
Some seeds which are traditionally sown direct (because the seedlings resent having their roots disturbed by tranplanting) and others are usually sown in trays and transplanted. The sort that don't mind transplanting you could sow in trays and wait for the soil to dry without losing time. The seed packet or any good gardening book will tell you which is which.
The former can if fact be sown in pots in some conditions, this can give you a few weeks of growth while you wait for the soil to be ready, or for the last frost to pass or whatever. For example most people will sow curcurbits (pumpkins, squash etc) directly. I sow them singly in small tubes (about 6in,15cm high and 2in, 5cm wide) They can then be planted out without transplant shock because the slug of soil comes out of the tube in one lump and leaves the roots alone.
David
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Don't dig in wet clay; it will just compact it more. You may want to try what I do.
I have heavy clay soil, and I don't even bother trying to seed it. I put a few layers of chopped-up organic stuff like grass and leaves where I want to make a bed (even an inch will do; you just want to get it up off the clay), and then sprinkle some bagged dirt or compost over it to plant seeds. The roots will grow down and break up the clay, the organic stuff will encourage the earthworms to appear, and the entire lot will break down to nice, mellow soil in a year. --S.
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shovel to amend her soil with organic material ( 5 - 10%), including manure, and sand. Soil composition in the root zone should "eventually" be 20 - 30% clay, 30 - 50% silt, 30 - 50% sand. Once soil is amended a garden can be planted, which once established, should be mulched (alfalfa is ideal). At the end of the season, or now if no crop is planted, sow area with buckwheat or rye, as they produce incredible amounts of roots which will aerate the soil and allow for draining. Nitrogen fixing plants like clover or pulses are also helpful for fertility of the soil but the buckwheat or rye will lossen the soil quicker.
Under NO circumstances add CHEMICAL FERTILIZER$, which cause harm to leaf crops and kill soil microbes that make soil naturally fertile. If you have any questions about this approach, "google" lasagna gardening and check you library for "Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web" by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis (Amazon.com product link shortened) /ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid06815176&sr=1-1
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Hi,
Thank you so much for all your comments and advice. Not many people I know like gardening, so being part of this community is inspiring.
Thanks again.
Ellie
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ElleJay


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