The Q&A Archives: Improving Clay Soil

Question: We have real adobe soil that in the winter turns to mud and in the summer cracks and dries while pushing up rocks. What can I do?

Answer: Clay soil can be a real gardener's nightmare! You can begin, on a small scale, to improve the soil by working in lots of compost or other organic matter. Choose flower or vegetable beds that you want to plant this year and spread a three or four inchlayer of mulch on top. Work it in to a depth of at least six inches, deeper if you can. Continue to do this year after year to help "fluff" up the soil. If you start small, in beds you plan to use immediately, you can spread your soil improvementefforts throughout the yard over several growing season. Persistence will pay off and eventually you'll have a loamy-type soil that will drain well yet hold important nutrients and moisture. <br><br>Adding Gypsum may help break up the clay. Your extension service (ph# 916/842-2711) can give you soil testing information, and can tell you if gypsum will improve your soil - it won't work for some clay soils. If all of this sounds like too much work, you can always garden in containers on top of yourtough soil!<br>Good luck!

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