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Clay soil

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Clay soil

Post  beebass22 on 2/4/2016, 1:06 pm

Most of the area I can garden in retains some water. We had a big rain yesterday I didn't get to see if its standing water were we are planning the garden but I went over today and its all still pretty wet. It is on a slope so I think that may help.

I was thinking about digging 2 in down where I'm going to put the beds adding in a 2in thick layer of sand, then putting the weed cover down and the soil on top. Does that sound about right?

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Re: Clay soil

Post  sanderson on 2/4/2016, 4:10 pm

I think if you dig down 2" into the clay, the result will be water-logged sand pits. Instead, build up the areas of the beds with native soil or what ever, so the bottom of the beds will be above standing water.

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Re: Clay soil

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/4/2016, 6:56 pm

@sanderson wrote:I think if you dig down 2" into the clay, the result will be water-logged sand pits.  Instead, build up the areas of the beds with native soil or what ever, so the bottom of the beds will be above standing water.

Agree. Go up. My old windowboxes sit in a waterlogged spot, but they are about 12" deep. So, when the bottoms are in puddles for days and weeks, the tops (thanks to MM) stay relatively OK ish

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Re: Clay soil

Post  yolos on 2/4/2016, 10:37 pm

@sanderson wrote:I think if you dig down 2" into the clay, the result will be water-logged sand pits.  Instead, build up the areas of the beds with native soil or what ever, so the bottom of the beds will be above standing water.
I live in Georgia and have red Georgia hard as a rock clay.  All I did was set my boxes down on the clay, put down a layer of cardboard, then mels mix, then planted.  But I do have a very slight incline so there was a lot of mud but only standing water in a few low places.  I agree with Sanderson, if you are going to do anything, don't dig down, that will make a sink hole where water will drain into the hole and MAY be too wet for the veggies.  Depending on the incline of your hill, put down some pine bark nuggets to keep from walking in mud.

We had about 15 inches of rain this past Dec.  I was able to walk out in the garden without getting muddy feet because of the thick layer of pine bark nuggets.  A few times, the nuggets did try to wash away but didn't go far (more or less just moved around in the walkways).

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Re: Clay soil

Post  jimmy cee on 2/5/2016, 9:07 am

For many years I walked on an incline to get to my garden area, not steep, however, as the years went by I became clumsier and clumsier.
After making a level area, laying some stepping stones I decided to  add plain old wood chips...this did the trick.
Now instead of mud 2/3rds of the year I can walk out in a clean walkway, will need to add more from time to time, very much worth the work,

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Re: Clay soil

Post  plantoid on 2/5/2016, 9:12 am

That's bedded in nicely Jimmy , it looks really natural,  you'd never realise how much thought & effort went into the alterations you made to it all .

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Re: Clay soil

Post  sanderson on 2/5/2016, 3:03 pm

Nice Jimmy.

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Re: Clay soil

Post  beebass22 on 2/5/2016, 10:34 pm

Looks great, really like the stones!

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Re: Clay soil

Post  jimmy cee on 2/6/2016, 7:25 am

@plantoid wrote:That's bedded in nicely Jimmy , it looks really natural,  you'd never realise how much thought & effort went into the alterations you made to it all .
 And how many cases of beer went into all that planning....

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Re: Clay soil

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/6/2016, 9:53 am

Any time you are laying stones it's hard work and an adult beverage or 2 can help the back pain that is inevitable! That is really nice, Jimmy!

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Re: Clay soil

Post  AtlantaMarie on 2/6/2016, 4:06 pm

Yes, it is!

Jimmy, want to come down here & do that for MY garden?? ;-)

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Re: Clay soil

Post  yolos on 2/7/2016, 1:27 am

You want to see clay.  This is what I started with.  You can see my gardening implement used from necessity sitting on the 4x4 towards the back of this picture.  A pick axe or a maddock (sp) to break up the clay.  Look at the clay clods in the front of the bed.  There is a very very thin layer of topsoil on the very top of the bed. But about a  1/4 inch below the topsoil is hard clay. 


Here is a picture of that same bed now.  Nice and rich modified mels mix because it was such a large area (4 x 32) .

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Re: Clay soil

Post  jimmy cee on 2/7/2016, 9:47 am

@AtlantaMarie wrote:Yes, it is!  

Jimmy, want to come down here & do that for MY garden??  ;-)
In my youth I would have jumped at the chance..believe me, I was extremely adventurous. only problem then was, nothing pertained to gardening...LOL

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Re: Clay soil

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/7/2016, 9:53 am

I have clay here, too.  You can practically form pottery after a good rain Rolling Eyes

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Re: Clay soil

Post  donnainzone5 on 2/7/2016, 3:58 pm

When I created my second SFG bed in Southern California, even though the area had already been amended TWICE, I dug out clods of clay that I could barely lift.

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Re: Clay soil

Post  AtlantaMarie on 2/7/2016, 10:52 pm

LOL! Hear ya, Jimmy! I was the same way...

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Re: Clay soil

Post  naughtymoose on 2/10/2016, 7:54 pm

Our plot is London clay, and when we visited it the other day it was completely waterlogged. I'll probably have to wait quite a while until I can get up there to finish clearing it.

My plan is to rotovate after pulling the dead weeds and then make the plot flat, with a slight incline to the edges.

As others have suggested, digging down won't help, so I have planned to put the beds on raised hills. The longer plan will be to add some form of duckboard pathway made from pallets perhaps.

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Re: Clay soil

Post  plantoid on 2/10/2016, 8:38 pm

On one particularly evil bluish gray  wet clay in winter /rock in summer allotment I had in  East Anglia I talked to one of the old timers ,a guy called Bill ,he was as old as the soil itself & well into his eighties in 1982 when I met him .

His two allotments next to my two weed infested  broken saddle  back ones were as level as a tennis court but almost two feet higher than my highest point. . , the " Built soil " in  his beds was started in 1914 and went a good four feet down over time..

 He suggested that I get hold of as much sawdust & small shaving from the local joiner yard as possible, lay it on wet ground  and when I got an area six inches deep I was hire a big heavy self propelled rotovator to rotovate it in deep ..as deep as the rotovator would go ( approx 18 " saddle

 I exceeded all expectations the yard had many cubic yards of it and my boss let me borrow our  firms three tonne truck to bring it out one Friday & Saturday .It was a good nine inches worth covering the two plots .  Most of the Saturday afternoon & all day Sunday was spent tilling it in weeds & all .

 The clay changed on the late Sunday afternoon from wet  sticky gunge  to crumbly much drier balled saw dust & clay .
 Old Bill kept coming out to see  me  , just before I packed up on the Sunday evening he said , " David I've managed to get the stables up in Ferry Meadows  to deliver 12 tonnes of manure  to help them clear their muck heap . They will dump one load at the back of your plots and one at the front . Fork it out during the week & hire the rotovator again for next week end ".

 Come the weekend over the Saturday & Sunday  I reworked the plots again to eventually going down to 18 inches deep .  I must have been on the weekends  twentieth tilling session when I noticed a dramatic change in everything ... suddenly i was getting a friable light soil before my very eyes .

At Bills suggestion the first year was grow a lot of potatoes , by quartering a potato , dipping it in lime to ward off wire & eel worm .. so long as each quarter has an active chitting eye in it it will become a potato plant . The idea of the spuds was not so much as to get potatoes but to get an  umbrella of close grown tops to kill off weeds plus the hilling/ridging up of the rows also helped  do in the weeds . That first year the other veg were done in a 18 x 6 foot section .
Come the autumn I re-manured and rototilled  it in . This time I gave it all a sprinkle of garden  lime a few days later after a couple of rains rake it in  and started putting in loads of over winter cabbages , cauli's , broad beans , garlic & onions .

My big time allotment gardening life had started.   If I had not done it as Bill suggested it would have taken me many years to get some decent beneficial fungal & bacterial life into the allotment and I'd have had three or four years of very mediocre crops .

 Yes it was hard work , but I feel that the long term return was well & truly worth it all.

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Re: Clay soil

Post  sanderson on 2/11/2016, 3:48 am

Plantoid, You had a good mentor for your allotments. Still, I'm exhausted reading about all the work you went through to bring the clay/rock up to a nutritious soil , as compared to ANSFG. Shocked

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Re: Clay soil

Post  Windmere on 2/11/2016, 1:00 pm

@yolos wrote:
@sanderson wrote:I think if you dig down 2" into the clay, the result will be water-logged sand pits.  Instead, build up the areas of the beds with native soil or what ever, so the bottom of the beds will be above standing water.
I live in Georgia and have red Georgia hard as a rock clay.  All I did was set my boxes down on the clay, put down a layer of cardboard, then mels mix, then planted.  But I do have a very slight incline so there was a lot of mud but only standing water in a few low places.  I agree with Sanderson, if you are going to do anything, don't dig down, that will make a sink hole where water will drain into the hole and MAY be too wet for the veggies.  Depending on the incline of your hill, put down some pine bark nuggets to keep from walking in mud.

We had about 15 inches of rain this past Dec.  I was able to walk out in the garden without getting muddy feet because of the thick layer of pine bark nuggets.  A few times, the nuggets did try to wash away but didn't go far (more or less just moved around in the walkways).
I just want to echo the advice given by Sanderson and yolos.  I also live in Georgia (about a stone's throw from yolos). 

Two of my boxes are on a slight slope and I carved them into our Georgia red clay.  However, I purposely did not make it completely level... just slightly inclined.  The result is that the water yolos spoke of did not pool in my boxes.  I have to admit, digging and leveling to how I finally had it took a lot of figuring out how to get it just right... I'm not sure I would go through all that hard work again.

I used garden fabric under my Mel's mix and it seems to still be intact... I'm now beginning my fourth season.

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