How To Grow Anything In Clay Soil

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Clay is great for making bricks but the soil can be difficult to grow in because it compacts very easily making it harder for the roots to spread and for the ground to absorb water.

Luckily there are things that we can do not just to make clay easier to grow in but it can also be transformed it into rich black soil that can grow anything.

If enough effort is put into the clay then the soil can be transformed in one year and would not need any maintenance for at least the next three years.

TILLING SAND INTO CLAY SOIL

Sand is tiny pieces of rocks that are good to have in the soil to help with water absorption. When sand is in soil, especially in clay it allows water to seep into the ground instead of running off.

Adding about 15% sand in with the clay will not only help with water absorption but it will also help to reduce soil compaction making it easier for the roots to grow.

Clay soil can be difficult to till therefore you may want to break up the clay with a tiller before adding the compost and tilling it into the soil.

When tilling sand into the soil, a ratio of 1 part sand to 1 part clay is best but because sand is naturally acidic, you will need to keep an eye on the pH level and may need to lower it.

AMENDING THE SOIL WITH COMPOST

Soil amendment is simply adding anything to the soil that will change the material features or chemical makeup of the soil.

Amending clay soil is the best way to improve the quality of the soil and this is done by mixing organic matter such as compost with the clay.

This will help to break up the clay, adds organic that will help to hold water, and adds needed nutrients to the soil as the compost continues to decompose.

Amending clay soil is best done by adding about 2 – 3 inches of compost over the clay soil then the compost needs to be tilled into about the top 6 inches of the soil.

USING COALS FROM A FIRE

Using charcoals from the fire have been used for thousands of years with the oldest known use of charcoal to improve the soil being the ancient Mayans.

When water passes through the coal it causes a chemical reaction that will in time turn clay soil into rich black soil.

Using coal for any soil conditions will improve the soil for optimal plant growth.

NOTE: it is not advisable to use charcoal briquettes from a grill in a food garden because they use flammable chemicals to help the briquettes burn.

TEST THE Ph OF THE CLAY SOIL

Clay is alkaline by nature which will be suitable for some plants but most will need a higher ph level for optimal growth and blooms.

For plants to be able to absorb nutrients from the soil they will require the soil to have a certain soil pH range.

This is because the acid in the soil breaks down the nutrients which then allows the plant to absorb them.

If the soil is too alkaline or not acidic enough then the plant won’t get enough nutrients and if the soil is too acidic for a plant then it will absorb too many nutrients and the plant can die.

The pH of your soil can easily be tested and monitored with a pH tester.

You can create a simple spreadsheet with your plants listed in the first column and in the other columns, you can list the date and pH level, for example.

PLANTDATEDATEDATEDATE
NAME OF PLANTpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVEL
NAME OF PLANTpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVEL
NAME OF PLANTpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVEL
NAME OF PLANTpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVEL
NAME OF PLANTpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVELpH LEVEL

This will allow you to control the range of the soil’s pH to fit the needs of the plants you are growing whether they are growing in the ground or in a potting container.

HOW TO CHANGE THE pH OF CLAY SOIL?

Clay soil is naturally alkaline therefore something that is acidic will have to be added to the clay to properly support the plants that live in the soil.

There are many different things that you can add to the clay to increase the pH of the soil such as adding lime, and wood ash, and some gardeners use baking soda.

Lime is the most used way to increase the pH of any soil and is available from two sources, agricultural lime and dolomite lime.

They both also have calcium, but dolomite lime also has magnesium.

When applying lime to clay soil, the top 8 inches of the soil needs to be tilled first, then the lime can be added.

Lime will take 2 to 3 years to completely react with the clay at a rate of 40 pounds of lime per one thousand square feet to increase the pH by 1.

Wood ash should be applied directly to the ground at a depth of about a quarter of an inch and baking soda’s dilution ratio is 1 tablespoon to 1 gallon of water.

Clay is great for making bricks but the soil can be difficult to grow in because it compacts very easily making it harder for the roots to spread and for the ground to absorb water.

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