Clay soil

Where I live (S. Central Tx) I have really black soil but its got a lot of clay.In my flower beds I have worked in lots and lots of compost and sand and mulch but what else can I put in it to make it looser? It is much better than my yard but I have heard sand, I have heard gypsum and I have heard sulfur. The soil is definetly not acid. What should I put in?
I haven't been online for a while but it was nice to see CHris Owens, Madgardner,Gardengal and others names I have recognized forever. Is like coming back to friends.
TIA Judy zone 8B
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Hi Judy,
If your soil is 'black', which would indicate to me that it is high in organic material and 'loamy', then I don't see how it could have a lot of clay as well. Nevertheless, continuing to add any organic material you can is the way to go. By simply topdressing yearly with shredded leaves, compost, grass clippings spread thinly, composted manure, etc., the organic material will percolate down to an astonishing depth relatively quickly.
Dave

and
than
sulfur. The

coming
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snipped-for-privacy@bunabayashi.com says... :) If your soil is 'black', which would indicate to me that it is high in :) organic material and 'loamy', then I don't see how it could have a lot of :) clay as well. :)
<grinning> Our soil is referred to as "Black Gumbo". Cracks large enough to lose your favorite steer in the dry season and slick and slimy enough to take up cross country skiing in the wet season. Adding organic matter is the best help for it. http://froebuck.home.texas.net/toppage4.htm
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Lar. (to e-mail, get rid of the BUGS!!
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A most excellent description of aour soil and a great article you referred me to. I will try the drainage test. and I will keep adding mulch and compost as I have. Thanks for all the replies! Judy zpne 7b

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Thanks for the link, very informative!
Dave
says...

of
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You cant really tell anything about the chemical properties of soil by examining the physical properties. The color dosent matter, yet customers are always asking for "that black dirt". The assumption that if something is dark in color, then it must be good soil, is wrong. For the original poster, keep adding compost and stay away from sand and gypsum, which cost alot and dont really help.
Toad
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and
than
sulfur. The

coming
Add limestone to it. Do not use burnt lime use plain old limestone, CaCO3. Keep the pH between just above 7 while you continue to add mulch such as grass clippings and such.
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In article <kaZ9b.142347$0v4.10505073@bgtnsc04-
:) Add limestone to it. Do not use burnt lime use plain old limestone, CaCO3. :) :) The problem to adding the lime and gypson to black gumbo is that the clay is calcium based to begin with rather than sodium based as is around other parts of the country.
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JStubbs358 wrote:

Thanks, Judy! :) What you need is compost, more compost, and then some more compost. It took me six years, but I turned my Maryland red clay garden beds into soil you could dig for 12" by hand by tilling in compost and shredded paper twice a year. I'm still working on the NYS clay and rock -- we're in the bed of an old glacier -- seven years later; but, then, I went from 1/8 of an acre to two; so, I hope I'll be forgiven for being a bit dilatory. ;>
Chris Owens
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JStubbs358 wrote:

Thanks, Judy! :) What you need is compost, more compost, and then some more compost. It took me six years, but I turned my Maryland red clay garden beds into soil you could dig for 12" by hand by tilling in compost and shredded paper twice a year. I'm still working on the NYS clay and rock -- we're in the bed of an old glacier -- seven years later; but, then, I went from 1/8 of an acre to two; so, I hope I'll be forgiven for being a bit dilatory. ;>
Chris Owens
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and
than
sulfur. The

Judy -- Just keep adding compost and organic materials. For areas where there are existing plantings (including lawn) you can add compost by spreading it out thinly -- especially good for lawns as it will not choke it out. For beds that's fine as well as things such as leaves, grass clippings, and so forth. Worm droppings are a good addition (as well as the worms that make 'em!) and you can always compost in a pile (believe it or not, we do not have much on our compost pile here -- we tend to work it in directly with plantings and/or filling out new planting areas).
To help get new plantings under way, just increase the size of your planting hole and replace the more clay soil with a better balanced and amended soil. For example, if you're planting a tree and need a 1.5 foot diameter hole, dig it to 3 feet in diameter and add more of the good stuff. :)
Most folks looking to make their soil more favorable through natural means will tell you -- it takes a while to get that rich soil the gardener adores. In most cases, 5 or more years to REALLY get it there. I've been working on different areas on my property, little at a time, and I've still got a LONG way to go but there is light at the end of the tunnel. :)
Hope this helps!
James
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All of your replies were helpful. I will keep adding compost and mulching and composting and mulching and composting and mulching and composting and mulching and.... I was just hoping for something faster, sigh. Judy zone 8b who you will find out side composting and mulching
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and
mulching
inches of soil, then hire a dump truck and a crew to bring in the rich soil you want, and dump and spread it. That would take care of the vast majority of plants. ;)

Come Judy, join us in the garden. We are all composting and mulching and composting and mulching and pulling weeds and mulching and clearing debris and composting and.... :P
James
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I've been interested in everyone's comments about clay soil ever since we moved to a heavy clay soil area, and until our Australian spring a couple of months ago, had decided that I'd lose maybe half the tropical plants I'd been nurturing at our previous residence - although they were mostly potted. Stick them in the clay, and oops, looks like they just weren't gonna handle winter/spring, etc.
However, in the interim, from the advice that you people have been offering, I'd taken very good care of the drainage, and spring has taken care of the growth, now I'm gonna use the weeds I've been saving and drying, as well as the compost (better dug in, as previously commented) and also heaps of newspaper.
My herb garden is showing the benefits of this already, and now I'm gonna experiment with the rest of my garden beds.
Too bad I wanna use rock mulch, because I can't use that until I've successfully taken care of what sits directly below the rocks!
But, thanks to all you EXTREMELY helpful people, I'm looking forward to having an excellent garden within a year or so, "other things being equal"!
Casey www.twistedirony.com

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