The Q&A Archives: Soil Problems

Question: A few months ago I started adding shredded lettuce, egg shells, shredded broccolli and aspearagus stalks, shredded carrots and steer manure to a very clay soil. Last year I was barely able to grow potatoes let alone anything else. Any suggestions on what would be the best thing to grow this year? My garden area has sun in the morning shady in the noon time and full sun afternoon.

Answer: Successful vegetable gardens are the result of good preparation. Start by building the soil. Add lots of organic matter in the form of compost, leaves, and grass clippings. Good soil isn't built in a year, or even two - it's a constant process of renewal, so plan on incorporating organic matter every year. Or, if your soil is just too 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 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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