Gardening with Clay Soil: What To Plant and How To Do It
Clay soil. I’ve never dealt with it because I’ve only ever had raised beds. And dang, it’s thick! At this new home I want to maximize my gardening potential, so I am starting to plant in the soil we have, as well as in the raised beds we build. Since we are building beds in phases, that leaves me to plant directly into our soil, which will actually improve the soil quality.
If you have clay soil then you know, it’s like mud when it’s wet and concrete when it’s dry. That is what we will try to fix with a mixture of bagged planting mix and some high quality fertilizer. I use AgroThrive for fertilizer which is organic and very effective. It’s typically used directly on plants as plant food, but I decided to pour some straight into the soil as well as it’s been known to work wonders in clay.
While a dense soil is hard to grow things in due to the inability for roots to push through it, it can work for some flowers and vegetables. Here are a list of things that grow well in clay, primarily because they have shorter/more shallow root structures:
- Brussel sprouts
- Day lilies
If you’re looking to plant directly into your clay soil, here is what I recommend:
1. Wet your soil so that it’s easier to work.
I was able to plant after rain, but wetting your soil will help tremendously. Clay is much easier to work when it can be brought up in chunks.
2. Dig out a hole about twice the size you need it to be.
In this instance I planted pumpkin seedlings, so dug a hole that was about 2 feet deep and wide. The purpose is to nourish the soil all around the plant, so that as the roots grow, it pushes into healthy matter.
3. Fertilize the empty holes and soil with liquid fertilizer.
I used my AgroThrive, which you can put into your watering can and dilute with water. I put ½ cup of fertilizer in with 2 gallons of water. This helps to break up the soil so that the planting mix you use in the next step can work its way in easier. I would water with about 1/6th of your 2 gallon can – enough to wet the hole and fill the bottom up about 2 inches.
4. Fill your hole up with an organic planting mix, and then plant your seedling like you normally would.
That means, fill the hole up with planting mix all the way. Then dig a new hole in the center of the planting mix, like you would if that was the original soil.
5. Water your seedling in with your fertilizer/water mix.
Use your fertilizer mix to water the seedling, using about a half gallon to a gallon of the water.
6. Repeat the fertilizing every 2-3 weeks.
The key to helping your clay soil expand and get healthy is to nourish it, but also to plant in it! Your vegetables and flowers will help it stay healthy. Add in worm castings if you can as well and keep at it. The more you can work in compost and fertilizer, the better.
Happy gardening friends!
*This post was sponsored by AgroThrive, but the thoughts and opinions are my own. I really do use and love AgroThrive and highly recommend it.