Vegetable Garden - Knowledgebase Question

Brandenburg, Ke
Question by nicholsm
March 17, 2010
I have always had a pretty good green thumb until I moved 6 yrs. ago. Our new yard is full of clay. I cant get anything to grow!!! My veggie garden is the worst. We til it and do all the prep work and add manure. After that didnt work, we built up the area. Now its worse. The plants start out ok, but produce very little and its not fit to eat. I also use a soaker hose. Any help would be very appre

Answer from NGA
March 17, 2010


How disappointing for you! Clay soil is really difficult because it can become compacted so easily and it's hard to get wet when the surface dries. On the plus side, it does retain water for long periods of time. I think you're on the right track with your raised bed. Working in lots of organic matter (compost, aged manure, shredded leaves, etc. will help, but you'll need to do it on an annual basis for several years before you can turn your clay into rich garden loam. Start this spring by removing all vegetation from the area and spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the vegetable bed. You can use compost, aged manure (fresh manure can be too hot and might contain weed seeds), shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig or till this organic matter into the soil - 8-10 inches deep. Plant your veggies and mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular vegetable garden. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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