Planting a garden - Knowledgebase Question

Dewitt, VA
Question by Punkieblueca
July 3, 2007
I live in the county and want to plant a garden and I have my vegetable plants in flower pots right now. My problem is some of our yard is red clay. Should I till the yard and add potting soil to the clay and dirt or should I just make a raised flower bed for the vegetable plants. And if the simplest way is a raised flower bed what is the best way to make one. I have a few ideas but want to do it right. Thank you for any help you can provide.

Answer from NGA
July 3, 2007


It usually takes several years to improve clay soils, but once it's done, you'll have loamy garden soil. I think it's worth the effort to improve the soil you have rather than importing soil for raised bed planters. You can always start small and work your way around the yard. Choose a site you'd like to use for a flower or veggie bed and spread a 4-5" layer of organic matter over the entire area. Dig it in to a depth of 8-10" and then level the area and plant your plants. After planting, spread another 2-3" of organic matter over the bare soil. This will slow evaporation and help suppress weeds. At the end of the growing season you can dig the organic matter into the soil to further amend it. The following spring, repeat the process. In about 3 years, you'll have wonderfully rich garden soil.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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