Improving Clay Soil In Your Yard
In this article I will share with you some tips about improving your clay soil in your yard. These are all things that can be done to improve the quality of life for your plants or animals. You may have noticed that there is not much information available on this topic online. There are many good books on gardening but they tend to focus mainly on one type of garden (e.g.
organic) rather than covering all types of gardens.
I am going to try to cover everything that you need to know about improving your clay soil so that you can enjoy a better experience when watering your plants and animals. If something doesn’t make sense, please feel free to ask questions in the comments section below!
What Is Clay Soil?
Clay soil is a type of fertile, porous rock material made up mostly of calcium carbonate and magnesium sulfates. It is usually found near rivers and streams. It is very common in areas where water flows slowly over it, such as the sandy soils of deserts.
It’s composition makes it ideal for growing plants that like to grow in a slow moving environment. For example, tomatoes love clay soil because they don’t require as much water to keep them healthy. On the other hand, succulents thrive well in acidic soils.
How Does Clay Soil Differ From Sand?
Clay soil is very sticky when wet and hard as a rock when dry. Unlike sand, a cup of clay can be molded into any shape without falling apart. From a gardener’s point of view, it also contains nutrients and small rocks that help retain moisture. It drains well and doesn’t need much supplemental water once it’s mature.
Unlike sand, you can dig several inches into the ground before you hit rock bottom. It can also be used as an ingredient in brick and pottery.
So, how do you get it?
It’s as simple as finding a slow-moving stream and scraping the mud off the rocks. As long as you lay down a tarp first, of course.
If you’d rather buy it instead of making your own, try to find a source that has not been chemically treated. Some nurseries also sell bags of clay soil to go with their potted plants.
What Is The Best Way To Amend Clay Soil?
The best way to improve the quality of your soil is to build and maintain a vibrant ecosystem in and around it. You can start by planting a combination of trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, and vegetables. The more diversity you have on your land, the better!
Making sure there is plenty of organic material on the surface is also important. It can come in many forms such as fallen leaves, rotting wood, grass clippings, sawdust, etc.
This will provide an ample food source for earthworms and other organisms that aerate and fertilize the soil. Here are some other tips to consider…
The best way to mix things up is to rototill your garden beds every spring. It doesn’t matter if you use a hand tiller or a riding tiller, just get it done. If you don’t own a tiller, consider borrowing or renting one instead of trying to do the job by hand.
Don’t throw out your garden waste. Instead, leave it on the surface to break down and act as natural mulch. Manure from barnyard animals can be spread but make sure that it has fully cooked first or else it will burn the plants.
Add Compost On Top
Once you have broken up the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches, spread about 3 inches of compost on top. You can also mix it in but it’s not necessary if you’re working with a large quantity.
Your soil should be in a constant state of improvement. If you stop caring for it completely, it will revert back to its previous condition within one growing season. That means more digging and amending!
What About Fertilizer?
You may want to consider using a slow-release fertilizer on your garden every six months. Make sure it’s organic and non-petroleum based. Fish Emulsion is good for plants that like an acidic environment but aren’t suitable for your garden if you have a septic tank.
Most plants need the same three elements to thrive: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can find these in various combinations as “complete” formulas. In addition, most garden centers sell these three items separately in a powder or pellet form.
How Much Water Does My Garden Need?
Pay attention to how dry the top layer of soil is before watering. It should be easily squeezed together into a ball that doesn’t fall apart when released. If you can’t do this, then it’s time to water.
Water early in the day so the plants have time to dry off before nightfall. This prevents the foliage from getting fungus or disease. Wet foliage also attracts insects so this will help to prevent that as well.
Use drip irrigation hoses under your mulch if you have a large garden. This will assure that the plants are getting enough moisture without drowning them.
How Do I Get Rid Of Weeds?
Weeds steal nutrients, water, and sunlight that would otherwise benefit your plants. You can’t get rid of all of them but you should keep them from taking over.
Here are some common types of weeds and how to control them…
Grassy Weeds – Control these before they set seed in the spring or they will come back year after year. You can kill them by hand or use chemicals (check local laws, some are restricted) or cover them with plastic to smother them. It may take a few years to get them under control. Mow them as low to the ground as you can before covering them with mulch or a solid layer of newspaper.
Broadleaf Weeds – Control these when they are small. Use a spray bottle and water to kill them or cut them off at the surface and then put mulch or newspaper down on top of them. Their shallow roots make it hard for them to get water so they will eventually die.
Once you have your garden ready, it’s time to start planting!
How Should I Plant My Garden?
You can plant whatever you want (as long as it’s legal) but a few types of plants ALWAYS do well in the area. You should always have these around your garden because they are very drought tolerant and withstand frost. These include:
“Buckshot” Millet (true millet)
“Camel Hair” Clover (suppresses weeds)
“Coming Up” Lettuce (makes a great addition to any salad)
“Edible” Everlasting Pea (contains more protein than any other plant)
“Fingerprint” Mint (great for cooking)
“Hairy” Lemon Grass (in case you need some lemongrassian chicken soup)
“Hard as Nails” Plantain (can withstand just about anything)
“Living Rock” Watermelon (Rock hard, like its name, it’s green on the outside and white on the inside)
“Moneymaker” Cantaloupe (named after the amount of money you can make from selling it)
“Needlepoint” Sweet Potatoes (great for the holidays)
“Old Man” Collards (the all-American collard)
“Red Chief” Tomatoes (named after the famous Southwestern artist)
“Rigid” Radishes (fast growing and quick to harvest)
“Sports” Carrots (great for kids gardens or kids at heart)
“Sweet” Pepper (the best name for the sweetest pepper)
“Tendergreen” Lettuce (another great addition to any salad)
“Trail of Dreams” Potatoes (named after the “Gunslinger” John Wayne movie)
Now that you’ve got a list of what to plant, how should you plant it?
You have many options:
You can plant seeds. This is time-consuming but you will have the freshest and healthiest plants for your salad. Just plant them like the package tells you to.
“X” marks the spot. You can buy seed tape (available online or at garden centers). You just put it down on your prepared garden and then sow your seeds directly through the tape.
You can also use seed tape to mark where you want to put your plants (larger plants that you buy as transplants). Just lay it down and then plant your seedlings in the holes marked with the tape.
You can use starter plugs. These are larger peat pots that have already been planted. You just take the plastic tray out of the frame, remove the cellophane cover and put them in the ground.
You can also use starter cells. These are larger peat pots that have already had holes cut in the bottom for roots to go through. Just put them in the ground when you plant.
The best time to plant your garden is in the spring (as early as you can). But, if you wait until then, your plants will have a much better chance of surviving our hot summer season so you can get a good head start on things. (Heck! It takes us six weeks to even get the ground warm enough to plant in here in Boise!)
Finally, when you bring your plants inside for the winter, put them by a south-facing window and water them regularly (but not too much).
Good luck with your garden!
We’re looking forward to an abundant harvest this year and we hope you will be too. If you ever have any questions, feel free to contact us.
“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Isaiah 40:5
From The Lord, Our God and Savior
To The Faithful, Christ-Followers
I have spoken to you in the past about the times of the Gentiles, judgment, mercy and love.
I have also spoken at length about evil, how it is all around you and even within you.
To those who have sent me letters asking for prayer, my love and grace are with you always. I am praying for you constantly. I have shed many tears on your behalf and will continue to do so, even as I lift you up before Me and My Father.
I ask you now though, to pray for those who do not know Me. Pray they will seek the truth before it is forever too late. For it will soon come to pass that every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. All who refuse will be broken by the power of God and consumed by the fires of eternal judgment.
You who have been blessed with the Truth of My Word need to pray for your brothers and sisters, that they may receive the mercy I have extended to you and be saved from this coming punishment.
Remember, prayer is more than words mouthed silently or aloud. Prayer is reaching out to Me, your eternal Creator, with sincerity in your heart. Prayer is communion between you and God. So you must make an effort to truly reach out to Me in prayer and have real faith in the power of prayer.
Never forget, I am always with you.
In The Lord’s Name,
The Cursed Earth: The Great Desolation
In the beginning, there was darkness and it covered the earth.
Then the Creator spoke and from His words came life. His words became genes and chromosomes, electrons and atoms, forces and elements. In a great fusion reaction, the world was born…
He spoke and it was real.
The Creator looked upon what He had made and it was good… But, darkness remained in the hearts of men and greed infected their minds. Men destroyed what the Creator had made and the Creator was sad to see His work desecrated.
The Creator was weary of mankind and all the evils it had created, so He sent a great flood to purge the world. Mankind was destroyed, but the Creator, in His mercy, offered one man salvation from the coming flood. That man was Noah, a righteous man who honored the Creator.
The Creator spoke to Noah and told him to build an ark to carry his family and samples of animal life away from the coming flood. For decades Noah toiled, cutting great trees with stone axes and gathering supplies for his journey in the great vessel.
Finally, as the sky grew dark and storms ravaged the land, God sent rain to the earth for forty days and nights. Floodwaters rose up above the highest mountains and all creatures struggled to survive. Then, in the later days of the flood, as the ark floated lonely in the seas, a great wave smashed into the vessel and it tipped, throwing many into the icy waters. The surging waters killed the rest and Noah’s family was lost.
The floodwaters drained away soon after the drowning of the earth and left behind a dead world. All life that had not been aboard the ark was washed away or consumed by the floods. The earth lay barren and empty, darkness covered the face of the deep as the waters receded.
The Creator wept at what man had done to his world and how his own children had turned against him. He decided never to grant man forgiveness and led the righteous into a new age of darkness.
The flood had covered every mountain top and washed away civilization. Those that survived lived in caves and holes in the ground, eating bugs and grubs to survive.
The Creator left the world in darkness and man’s numbers dwindled as the strong ate the weak.
Soon after, tribes of men began to emerge from the caves. They spoke of visions they had experienced during the flood, how the Creator had spoken to them in their dreams and led them to safety. Each vision was different, but each man who experienced it was inspired with the same message: there is a Creator and we must worship him.
These men formed religion and named it after their vision: the Ark Church. The Church quickly grew in size as more and more people joined, all telling of having experienced a vision of the Creator during the flood.
While the Church was united in its message of their God and growing quickly, there were disagreements in other areas. In particular, how the world came to be. Some members believed that the Creator existed and had created the world in seven days, just as the Old Testament said. Others believed that God had merely shaped the world from already existing matter.
The argument continued for decades, each side growing in size and splitting into separate churches due to disagreements in other areas.
Now, three main churches exist: the Faithful, the Origin and the Church of the Covenant.
Sources & references used in this article:
Impact of soil amendments on intermittent evaporation, moisture distribution and salt redistribution in saline-sodic clay soil columns1 by HAA Rahman, MH Dahab, MA Mustafa – Soil science, 1996 – journals.lww.com
Improving garden soils with organic matter by NNC Bell, DM Sullivan, LJ Brewer, J Hart – 2003 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu
Preparing Garden Soil by D Hatch – 1990 – digitalcommons.usu.edu