Top Tips To Make Clay Soil Richer
Clay soils are defined as those that have a high quantity of fine particles. When you dig in clay, it will stick to your spade as the fine particles are very good at holding onto water. This makes it sticky, but it can also make it a great soil for growing a wide variety of plants.
If you dig in your garden and find soil that feels sticky and dense, then break a piece of soil off and roll it in your hand. It should go into a smooth ball without feeling gritty.
The Problem With Clay Soil
Clay soil is heavy, making it hard to dig in and heavy work planting. Because it is so good at retaining water, it can take a long time to drain. It’s also slow to warm, which means that seedlings will take longer to get started in this type of soil.
However, the ability to retain water does make it useful for plant growth, especially when there is limited rain. It’s also very good at holding onto nutrients.
Because digging is difficult, it is advisable to invest in some rock augers. These will allow you to create drainage holes and keep excess water away from plants. It can also make it much easier to turn the soil over when needed.
Create Raised Beds
Raised beds full of clay soil make it much harder to trample on the soil and create puddle areas. They also increase the ability of the soil to drain, helping them to create the right balance for plant growth.
It’s worth noting that if you create raised beds, you’re best off not digging in them. This will help to retain the natural nutrients and improve plant growth.
It’s worth taking a sample of your clay soil and getting it analysed. Many clay soils are low in calcium, which means that adding some to your soil can really help your plants. But, not all clay soils respond this way.
Sometimes it is better to add lime as this reduces the clumpiness of the soil and improves the chances of plants growing.
If you’re trying to decide between adding lime or calcium and don’t want to have the soil tested, it’s best to try on a small piece and see what effects it has.
Although it can be hard work to dig in clay, even with the rock auger, it’s worth adding manure or compost to the top of the clay soil and then slowly turning it over to ensure this is part of the clay soil. This will increase the fertility of the clay soil, helping plants to become established quicker.
You can also add a layer of compost to the surface of your clay-raised bed. This will encourage plants to start growing and then allow them to tap into the moisture of the clay soil once established.
You should note that adding grit to help drain ability doesn’t really work as it would need to be large quantities.