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Gardening in clay

Discussion in 'Gardening On Your Homestead' started by NH Homesteader, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. Mar 3, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    Hi Southern friends, this is for you!

    DH and I are considering (strongly) moving to TN. Better weather for homesteading, cheaper living, little snow! NH does however have seriously lovely soil. TN has a lot of red clay, DH saw in his recent visit. He asked me to ask you all what you have to do to get a healthy garden growing in that?

    I would love to do raised beds, at least for some things but it seems like an expensive solution? We have plenty of critters to help with compost and organic matter, including pigs for tilling!
     
    Beekissed likes this.
  2. Mar 3, 2017
    frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Sustainability Master

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    That is the key! Before I poisoned my soil with bad hay, I would compost, compost, compost!
     
  3. Mar 3, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    So theoretically it takes a while of composting before much will grow?
     
  4. Mar 3, 2017
    lcertuche

    lcertuche Almost Self-Reliant

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    X2...I used to put all the leaves, grass clippings, spoiled hay then let the chickens in the garden all winter. It was the best garden. From rocky hard packed clay to beautiful worm filled soil. All this in one winter, so it can happen sooner than you think. It didn't cost anything but my labor.
     
    NH Homesteader and tortoise like this.
  5. Mar 3, 2017
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Almost Self-Reliant

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    My grandparents had clay in WV. Things grew well. It depends on the type & depth of clay it seems. I know it sure put a stain on the clothes. Leaves, shavings, lawn clippings, pigs rooting.......all helps.

    I am fortunate to have great topsoil, sand and finally some clay about 5-6 feet down. Haven't had to deal with it. Can see where water could be compromised as well as root growth.

    So, once you buy, consider this if clay is an issue. Make a trench for the crop row. Fill that with your compost, straw, etc., then plant. Come Fall, plow hard and add organic matter. Pain in butt, & probably less than no garden.
     
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  6. Mar 3, 2017
    NH Homesteader

    NH Homesteader Super Self-Sufficient

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    Thanks! And I forgot about the hay issue, if we move I have to find a new hay source, mine here are safe and I'll miss them, haha!

    I like the trench idea, we are considering getting rabbits so between that and the goats we'll have perfect fertilizer!
     
  7. Mar 3, 2017
    frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Sustainability Master

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    Not really - I heard on one of the gardening shows that clay soil is usually full of nutrients - it's just hard to work with. Heavy mulch will keep it moist and from baking into concrete when it doesn't rain. And, if you can find a clean source of mulch it will break down in the soil and help loosen it. I've got one spot in the garden that after a dozen years I don't even have to take a tiller to. The soil is loose enough to break up with a garden fork. I hope, hope, hope that I can get it to produce this year. It sat fallow last year so maybe, just maybe, any "badness" disappeared.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
  8. Mar 3, 2017
    Hinotori

    Hinotori Super Self-Sufficient

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    We have plenty of clay mixed in with the rock in the glacial till that is our soil here. Turns into cement in summer. Lots of organic matter every year. The first year I tilled under grass and removed the largest rocks and added in some compost and things did fine. Every year has been better. I do have a few raised beds as we get very wet here for most of the year and that lets me start some crops earlier than the mud.
     
  9. Mar 4, 2017
    lcertuche

    lcertuche Almost Self-Reliant

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    In our clay soil it was more of a matter of brick like dirt. Adding lots of organic matter will bring the earthworms and they will do the hard work of loosening up the dirt. I like the trench method idea a lot. If you don't have enough leaves, hay, etc. but then it would mean more physical work for you. Digging trenches ain't easy, lol.
     
  10. Mar 4, 2017
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Almost Self-Reliant

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    Not easy but, till deep in those areas, remove "some" & till in organic matter......next time, deeper in adjacent, add organic matter, etc. Mulch heavy on top to help prevent the worst of the brick like dirt.

    A lot depends on where & when you move. If Fall, you can plow a lot in & top it heavy then, to rot for Spring & repeat. If you are able to move really soon -- you have probably won the lottery & have no issues with selling, buying or gardening. :lol: A house found now could still be a few months out if you need to sell yours first. :idunno So, move near a forest to collect leaves!

    Hope you find somewhere that they have kept a garden and a lot will have been done for you.....carrying your own fertilizer will sure help with expense and availability.....:p And pre packaged.
     

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