The Q&A Archives: Improving Clay Soil

Question: I started about a month and a half ago fertilizing my small garden space by inserting lettuce, shredded aspearagus, shredded carrots ( lots ) steer manure, and egg shells and about fifty worms. I am dealing with clay dirt so it seems and I can say the dirt has not grown much except potatoes in a couple years. I am desperately trying to restore for this season, any tips? Also my garden is placed in partial shade. Little light in the morning and none in mid noon and intense afternoon any suggestions for planting in the veggie and fruit sense? Also whether to sow indoors or direct plant and when to start?

Answer: First of all start by building the soil. Add lots of organic matter in the form of compost, leaves, and grass clipping for example. If your soil is tough to work because of the clay, try growing your vegetables in raised beds. Raise the soil up about 10 high and create a bed 3' wide by as long as you wish. Start with planting transplants of tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. Crops to seed are peas, carrots, beans, squash. Follow the directions for spacing on the packages. You can buy the seed now, but wait until you're ready to plant to buy transplants. You should be able to put the cool season crops such as peas, carrots and lettuce in the ground by May 1st, but wait until the end of May for the beans, squash and tomatoes.

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