clay in soil

I hv clay in the soil. It keeps the soil wet and cold any rememedy ?
Also how to enrich the soil when it is dry, Does bone meal fertizer any help in the early stage, or peat moss ? Plz suggest s good fertilizer. I h a v small garden, ie, 10 X 16 feet only
Please adivise
Paul snipped-for-privacy@eastlink.ca
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wrote:

Clay is rich in nutrients, but the particulate are so small it has a very good water holding capacity. Clay has to be just at the proper moisture level to work. Generally that is about 3 days after a rain. You dig it up with a good fork, break up the clods with your hands and add as much compost as you can afford. In an area your size, I'd also say with the compost add about 5 bags of decomposed granite, or lavasand if you can find it. Topdress the whole thing by hand with epsom salts aka magnesium which helps iron be more available to the plants and never walk on that soil again.
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wrote:

Using keywords "How to improve clay soil", you will find helpful articles on the Web. Here are a few:
http://www.ehow.com/how_2058779_improve-clay-soil.html
http://www.taunton.com/finegardening/how-to/articles/improving-clay-soils.aspx
http://www.tmac.clara.co.uk/urgring/faqsoil1.htm
http://www.ideacosmo.com/garden/soil-clayimprove.html
There are many others.
IMHO, it helps to understand WHY the clay soil is not good, and HOW the various suggestions for improving it actually work.
HTH
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On 6/7/2008 9:10 AM, Paul Tiwana wrote:

Top with soil gypsum (NOT decorative gypsum rock). Over a period of a week or more, lightly rinse the gypsum into the soil. Gypsum reacts with clay to make the latter more easily worked. Just wait about 4 days after the last rinsing before digging. More gypsum should be applied annually.
After the gypsum has dissolved into the clay, dig and turn the soil with a spading fork (which is NOT a pitch fork). Do this at least to the depth of the fork's tines. Then, cultivate and break up clods with a 4-prong potato hook.
Peat moss will help some, but it must be worked thoroughly into the clay. A potato hook is good for this. Peat moss will remain in the soil much longer than compost. However, good compost should also be added; it contains soil bacteria that make soil nutrients available to plant roots.
Just go easy with both peat moss and compost. You should keep the soil near the surface still mostly clay. Otherwise, plant roots might not penetrate below the area that has been improved.
Bone meal's primary nutrient is phosphorus. Phosphorus will not dissolve and leach through the soil. It must be placed where roots will find it. Thus, you need to work bone meal down into the soil during the preliminary digging and turning. Broadcasting it on the surface merely wastes effort and money.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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Gypsum is useful for breaking up many clays but not all. IIRC smectitic clays are improved and kaolinic are not. I had a test procedure for this but cannot find the damn thing now. It may be worth enquiring from neighbours, local nurseries etc if your clay is the type broken up by gypsum.

Peat moss tends to be rather expensive, in these parts prohibitively so for a large area. In your samll plot it may be reasonable.

I find that any organic matter will improve the texture of clay soil and there it is hardly possible to have too much. Horse and cow manure are excellent but take care if it is fresh. Adding such to your soil will supply nutrients as well as improving texture. If the soil is poor and/or you want to grow heavy feeding plants add chicken/turkey/pigeon manure. Bird manure is much stronger and must be used in controlled amounts, particularly when fresh.
The third thing that helps break down clay is growing plants in it. The root activity helps to disaggregate clumps and so turning a cover crop back in will help in two diferent ways.
All these remedies take some time to work, you are not going to get great change in a few weeks.
David
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

I happen to live where we have hard red clay several feet deep. I also happen to live within 4 miles of the county composting station. Since I live in the county, I can get all the compost I want free. After screening the compost to 1/2 inch size, I add 4 to 6 inches every year & till it in. Very little fertilizer or watering needed. This soil is now loam to about 14 inches.
Check and see if there is such a composting station in your area.
Tom J
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wrote:

Incorporate compost into the soil. It will enrich the soil with the benefit of adding organic material and better drainage.

What kind and amount of fertilizer depends on the plant and your soil test results.

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Lots of compost and organic material, steer manure, and about 50 cubic feet of sand, if you only turn over the top foot of soil. Figure that you want a third of your soil to be sand. One foot down would make it about 1/3 of 160 cubic feet, a foot and a half would be 1/3 of about 240 cubic feet, and two feet would be 1/3 of 320 cubic feet for hard clay.
--

Billy
Bush and Pelosi Behind Bars
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Billy blathered:

If two feet down he's still into clay there still won't be drainage... all you're creating is a two foot deep mud pit. Now you've put him in a far worse situation had he done nothing... he just buried triple the double of the same sized raised bed garden, and has nothing but a big fat sloppy mess to show for it. Clayey soils with pooling water are the primary reason raised bed gardens were invented.
A 10' X 16' X 30" volume requires like 15 cubic yards of top soil... around here that truckload of really high quality organically enriched topsoil would run like $400 delivered. Pressure treated lumber and fasteners for that size raised bed garden would also run about $400... doing the labor oneself, not all that difficult, for under a grand he could have a gorgeous raised bed garden, and guaranteed to work, and work well... and if the ground below is typically wet he'll rarely need to water.
Why would any sane person want to dig a 160 sq ft pit two feet deep, in clay by hand... need a couple trained gorillas...hiring someone with a backhoe and to take away the clay, and to repair the damage made by the backhoe and dump truck could easily cost about a grand... and then all you have is a wet mucky hole... first heavy rain the poor guy will have a pond... oh <V-8 head slap>, a water garden, gonna grow mosquitos, wtf didn't you say so. <G>
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In article

Shelly, Shelly, Shelly everything you say is logical BUT all I have is heavy clay and for the last 20 years this approach has worked just fine for me. Of course I dug it and more (plus post holes) when I was younger. Even at 250 lbs and 6' 2", I still needed to take some breaks but it was good healthy exercise. I've terraced my garden so it is half raised, in a manner of speaking.
Just because you can't conceive of it doesn't make it impossible;-)
Those brown colored glasses you wear are very complimentary to you.
Now, what is wrong with the name Christian?
--

Billy
Bush and Pelosi Behind Bars
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Paul Tiwana wrote:

How deep does the clay extend? If you dig down with a hand spade for ten minutes and are still into clay then no amount of soil amending will be practical... for the small area you're dealing with you really should consider a raised bed garden.
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The depth of the clay in itself is not important, the way you arrange drainage in your area sitting on clay is. Unless you are into bog species, that would preclude digging a pit in the clay that can saturate with water regardless of the type or quality of soil you fill the pit with. This applies to planting a single shrub or a bed that will have many plants in it.
You can happily combine the ideas of soil amendment and raised beds as part of your solution to the various problems of clay soil - the two are by no means mutually exclusive.
On the plus side clay-based soils hold both water and nutrients better than the sand-based loam that is often described as ideal. If you are in a place where water can be scarce and you don't want to be dishing out fertiliser constantly, only to have it wash into the drain and make algal blooms downstream, you may grow to appreciate your clay compared to sand, although you probably won't ever actually love it.
David
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I agree. Having dealt with clay most of my life I can say creating a raised bed is by far the better and easier choice. "Working" clay destroys a lot of the soil microstructure and disrupts the overall ecology. It is better to practice "no till" by just digging a shallow hole for the plant, add amendments and compost, hill and plant. The worst aspect of clay (drying to brick) is overcome by mulching, anything from swamp hay (best) to newspapers. As the plant grows it will send the roots into the soil and when the roots rot they add organics. the compost will attract worms who are the real actors in building wonderful soil. One word of caution. DO NOT kneels or walk on clay beds. it compacts the soil too much.
As more mulch and compost is added over the years the soil will rapidly improve overall. Just dont let it get washed or blown away. Ingrid
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the only remedy is tons of compost or similar organic material. of course, you don't have go for broke, just keep working on it over time if you're planning to stay put.
on the up side, this can help you be drought proof.
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In article

Basically, if you keep the worms happy, they'll keep you happy.
--

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