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Gardening in clay

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

  1. Mar 5, 2017
    baymule

    baymule Super Self-Sufficient

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    Pig tractoring!! Fence two garden areas. Run chickens in one, pigs in the other over the winter. Then take them out before spring planting and give yourself time to get the soil prepared for planting. Or you can alternate the garden areas, keep animals in one for a year, while you garden in the other, then switch them the next year.

    While animals are living in next year's garden, mulch heavy with straw, hay, leaves, wood chips or whatever you can get, and let the animals "compost" them for you.
     
    sumi likes this.
  2. Mar 5, 2017
    sumi

    sumi Super Self-Sufficient Administrator

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    That is a great idea :thumbsup Just make sure the droppings from especially the pigs have time to age and break down a bit, or it will fry your plants. A very quick way to reduce the acidity in the soil/compost, if needed, is to mix a generous portion of wood ashes in. I did that once after adding a bit too much chicken poop to the compost heap. It reduced the acidity very, very quickly. Good way to use up fireplace/wood stove ashes too.
     
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  3. Mar 9, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    Typically and for most of my life, the key to planting in clay soil was to keep tilling it. Wide spaced rows so you can get a tiller in it and a tiller with a hilling attachment was how we kept weeds down and kept the soil loose enough for root expansion. We also used bagged fertilizers when planting. That's how many still do it here...that's been passed down as the only way to garden in clay soil.

    Some years back I started trying other ways to keep soil loose and the soil covered. I've tried a little of everything but currently I'm involved in creating new topsoil through the Back to Eden gardening method. So far it has improved the soil and the looseness of the underlying clay but I've had varied results on growing thus far...the jury is still out on how effective it is.

    I don't have to till, it's great for keeping moisture in the garden, it certainly attracts the earthworms, and it suppresses weed growth and allows easy removal of weeds that do take root.
     
  4. Mar 14, 2017
    Britesea

    Britesea Super Self-Sufficient

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    When we lived in the Bay area of CA (wonderful place to garden, but WAY too many people!) we had 3 30x30 fenced plots. Each year we would run a couple of pigs in one, the next one got all the chicken and guinea pig litter (his mom had over 500 guinea pigs- she is well known to the cavy world) and the third plot got the garden. The following year, the pigs would be where the garden had been, and the litter would be dumped where the pigs had been. This had been going on for something like 30 years by the time my husband and I took over the property. The garden always did wonderfully; I've dug more than 4 feet down and never hit hardpan in there. I sure miss that soil!
     
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