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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old June 18, 2018   #16
Worth1
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Originally Posted by mobiledynamics View Post
Organic Matter...and keep on adding yearly, monthly, etc IMO is you best friend with clay.
And builders sand NOT play sand.


Worth
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Old June 18, 2018   #17
mobiledynamics
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And or NO sand at all....if memory recalls, you need to incorporate like 50-75% of sand to make a difference...
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Old June 18, 2018   #18
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Haha, I had to use a pick ax to dig plants across the pond in Turnersville, NJ. I worked at Philly Navy Yard back then. After a delivery of a few yards of mushroom compost dumped on top, best garden ever!
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Old June 18, 2018   #19
Worth1
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I thought I posted this link but I didn't.
It isn't the first time I have posted it.
There is good or at least just information throughout the site.
Please read the bottom part if anything.

Worth
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...CogP5cZA9EZLRU

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Old June 18, 2018   #20
greenthumbomaha
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And or NO sand at all....if memory recalls, you need to incorporate like 50-75% of sand to make a difference...

Sandy soil is the bane of my existence in my raised beds at the lake. I've had 50 (!) bags of black cow dumped in, but its still sandy on top (and I threw logs in the bottom of one bed but can't tell the difference). Clay soil is amendable, and it doesn't take much. My garden to the north is wonderful and growing a variety of vegetables, and the amended area is even better! Fill dirt that is clay is awful though!


- Lisa
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Old June 23, 2018   #21
imp
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Lovely pictures, and yes, clay can be good, just like any other soil, you have to work around the quirks. Back in northern California, we had red adobe clay - slick as all get out when wet and hard when dry, but rich in nutrients and always had good gardens by amending them.
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Old August 13, 2018   #22
pinklady5
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I wish I had some clay right now! I finally moved down to Monmouth County from Union County and the soil here is laden with sand. Planted my first garden this spring and it was a bust. It was last minute, I admit. I added compost, fertilizers, worm castings and the soil obviously still lacked in nutrients, I ended up with weak plants and a small yield of bland tomatoes. Visited my old neighbor who also grows tomatoes and hers were green and lush with tons of fruit and they didn’t even do much to the soil. A lot of soil building in my future. I’m considering asking my family if I can dig up some soil from their yard!
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Old August 13, 2018   #23
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I wish I had some clay right now! I finally moved down to Monmouth County from Union County and the soil here is laden with sand. Planted my first garden this spring and it was a bust. It was last minute, I admit. I added compost, fertilizers, worm castings and the soil obviously still lacked in nutrients, I ended up with weak plants and a small yield of bland tomatoes. Visited my old neighbor who also grows tomatoes and hers were green and lush with tons of fruit and they didn’t even do much to the soil. A lot of soil building in my future. I’m considering asking my family if I can dig up some soil from their yard!

Ive been tossing the stuff away quite a few hundred buckets so far some went to my brthers first house and quite a bit to his second home.


  • Over 100 buckets when building the Koi Pond




  • About 80 buckets from this pond.




And quite a few from the back hill, front yard and other places, I am so tired of digging lol.
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Old August 15, 2018   #24
pinklady5
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Maybe you can mail me some of your clay.
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Old August 15, 2018   #25
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Maybe you can mail me some of your clay.
I gave up digging for my new years resolution lol
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Old August 15, 2018   #26
Cole_Robbie
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My beds are just mounds of good black dirt over the hard native clay. Although not the favorite of gardeners, clay has the advantage of being better at holding both water and nutrients. The looser a soil, the faster the fertilizer washes away, sand would be the worst offender, and nitrogen is the first nutrient to run off with the rain. By using clay as the bottom of my beds, that catches the good stuff and holds it longer, I think, before the rains wash it away.
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Old August 15, 2018   #27
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I rarely water my garden, so much clay on a swale.
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Old June 28, 2020   #28
Vespertino
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(I know this is an old thread, but


Sqwibb-



I'm also cursed with clay soil and agree it doesn't mean you're doomed!


One thing that helps for me in the tomato beds is to add expanded shale every year. You would need a tiller to mix it in, but that's about it. It helps break apart the clay.



I have one of those crummy houses in an HOA where they stripped away all the topsoil, built the houses and put down sod. I only had a thin layer of dark top soil- maybe a couple inches thick. Even though it's not much to work with certain things still grew: lillies, bridal wreath spirea, turks cap, beautyberry, lots of different irises, birds of paradise, etc, etc, etc.


I did have a struggle with tomatoes and vegetables; while they grow my first year's harvest was poor and the plants were spindly (as expected). But I kept adding organic matter, year after year and it worked. Once I started tilling in expanded shale every year it helped tremendously in making the soil more manageable and easier to work with. I'd recommend it for any beds that you plant veggies in but when digging your shovel feels more like it's carving out blocks of clay instead of digging soil.
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