The Q&A Archives: Question From Gardener's Supply

Question: Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 18:06:53 -0600
Subject: improving the soil [T20000430003AZ33182]
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X-MMC-Subject: improving the soil

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Tracking Number : T20000430003AZ33182
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Date : 4/30/00 7:05 PM

Forwarded by: David Grist

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I recently had what I thought was a large dumptruck load of good topsoil
delivered to replace an area that had once been reserved for the kid's
swingset. The soil in my area is clay that quickly turns to "cement"
with lots of foot traffic. The soil that I had delivered turned out to
be dark clay, a soil that my farmer friends call gumbo. So now I am
trying to improve the soil before I plant my vegetable garden. The area
is approximately 300 sq. ft. and so far I have added 4 large bales of
spagnum peat moss, 240lbs. of composted cow manure and about 80 lbs. of
sand. I have tilled it all in with my small little Echo garden tiller,
and now have something resembling good soil but still with lots of hard
clods. Am I on the right track? Would adding some lime help with
breaking up the clay, like some people say.? If so, how much do I add,
and do I have to wait if I add the lime before planting my garden?
Thanks in advance for sending your reply to:

Answer: You are definitely on the right track. With some more work and adding compost each season as you transition from one crop to another, that spot should turn into one fabulous garden. As for the lime, that depends on your soil pH. Your County Extension Office can assist you in having the soil pH tested. However, based on your description of the clay and the other things you added, I would suggest you go ahead and garden in the soil as it is. If a soil test shows a low pH you can always add lime later.

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