The most important point of all is that you need to avoid trying to do anything to soil in wet weather. Air movement in soil will assist with drying. Introducing compost on clay soil will make more of an improvement than on any other soil type. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! Whether the fertilizer is on the surface or incorporated into the ground, heavy rain will dilute it and try to wash it away straight through the soil. Remember that this is still heavy clay soil so you need to leave it and make a judgement as to when the conditions are right. It is vital that you don’t try to dig clay soil when it’s wet or even damp. For the same reason as water retention, clay soil does have another advantage over free-draining sandy-soil. When the Springtime comes and you want to start preparing the ground for seed sowing, all you will need to do is dig it over enough to establish a good tilth. Digging wet or damp clay soil will smear it and it will make in lumps which will set like concrete. If you have a good supply of compost available and you have clay soil then put as much of it on the soil as possible. When it comes to feeding plants in clay soil with fertilizer, you have one of the few advantages that clay soil can offer. Sand is the largest soil particle, with silt falling in the middle. Clay soil that hasn’t been managed in any way will become obvious to any experienced gardener. Clay soil is not easily free-draining. By the same token it’s easy to damage soil if you do any of the wrong things. Not only does compost provide a boost of nutrients for bedding plants and seedlings, but it also improves the drainage of commercial compost, making it easier for your plants to access the moisture necessary for proper growth. If your soil has too much sand or clay, if it is compacted, or if it lacks organic matter, then by all means dig. Clay particles have their own characteristics which literally separate them from other soil types. Soil that consists of over 50 percent clay particles is referred to as heavy clay. This will depend on the amount of burnable wood or hedge trimmings that are available to you at any time. This is a very convenient way of working heavy clay soil. I like using timothy hay and then working that into the soil as an organic compost … A well made compost and plenty of it will work wonders. cause certain problems, especially with specific plants. Begin by cultivating the strip of ground that you want for growing the crop using a rotavator. There is a limited amount of calcium and sulphur available from it but its main role is to enhance the soil structure and no more. If you just throw some lime around and guess at it you will do some good but there is a risk that you may add too much. One way to get around this is to sprinkle some water all over these very dry lumps and leave it for 1 or 2 hours to soak in. The lumps of soil will freeze and then thaw. If you make compost in an area where clay is not part of the soil, it’s easy to put clay in compost … You may also top dress perennial flower gardens with no greater than 1/4 to 1/2 inch of compost. Peat is difficult to saturate, especially in the soil. The question you should really be asking is: what should the PH level be for clay soil? In sandy-soil, nutrients will leach away before the roots can make full use of it. Fish emulsion needs to be diluted. Ways to improve the quality of clay soil. Adding compost to clay soil can only improve it. gently begin to feed plants and help prevent those early annual weeds. (Make sure when you’re gathering supplies that you choose black bags, which will soak up more heat than other bags and pass that heat along to the soil … When applying any extra nutrient plant feed on clay soil there’s a much better chance for the plants to make full use of it. The adding of hydrated lime will neutralize the acidity and disperse this toxic element. contaminated with weed seeds. Two or three inches of organic materials should be spread and rototilled, forked or dug into … Soil But if there is imminent rain forecast then this shouldn’t be necessary. The adding of. Making your own fish emulsion is cheaper and better than buying a commercially ready made brew. Now cover the soil with at least three inches of compost. Having some but not all clay in your soil does offer a few but valuable advantages. In agriculture it’s possible to manage heavy clay soil by performing what’s known as ‘subsoiling’. Compacted clay lawns benefit from annual aeration. Burning clay soil  What plants grow well in clay soil? Where there’s no chance of frosts you will have to rely on regular additions of organic material to help break up clay soil. A spring application of just ½ inch (1.3 cm.) Here you can’t win. This would include the ash generated from the burning of wood or hedge trimmings. A hard frost will freeze the water in the clay soil, then, when it thaws, the lumps of clay will break apart. The process changes the structure of the soil making it more open and free draining. In my experience, if you spread lime at the beginning of the growing season then the seeds that you sow, after spreading, will benefit almost immediately. If the PH level is below 5 then this level of acidity can cause the aluminium to become toxic which would be detrimental to any plant life. After this amount of digging you should now have a reasonable tilth on the surface and a good depth of soil that is open enough to allow adequate drainage. 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