A MyGarden visitor has emailed asking:

I was wondering how to improve clay soil?  It's muddy and doesn't hold water properly. I have 4 small plots but the main area is made up clay soil.  I know I need to treat the soil before I mulch, but what do i use to improve it? If you could help, I would be very greatful
XSV

No doubt, how to inprove clay soil is a common question, so I thought I would post it here.


When working with clay soil, it is best to mix in with it some gypsum.  Gypsum  really helps to break up and unlock your clay dirt.  Individual clay particles are actually negatively charged.  What this means is that they have the capacity to attract and adsorb, positively charged elements (called cations).  These cations include  such things as ammonium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and other trace elements.

Because of this capacity to adsorb these wonderful plant nutrients, they are relatively fertile.  All you have to do is unlock the soil.

Other good things to mix in would include:
  • sheep manure is a good agent to improve it too.  Really, horse manure and cow manure would do too if you can't find sheep manure.  You don't need to dig this in- just spread over your soil and rake it in.
  • mushroom compost is very good as it is ph neutral.  Most plants will react well to it.
  • pelletised complete fertilizer often made up of seaweed concentrate, blood and bone, fish manure, as well
    as chicken manure.  Spread liberally by the handful. This is a great organic method of improving your soil.
  • blood and bone is great because it contains slow release nitrogen, and also phosphorus and calcium.  If you use this as your soil improver of choice, be sure to add som potash too.  Roughly add 2 cups per bucket of blood an bone mix
  • Dolomite (limestone) is a wonderful soil conditioner if you have acidic or clayey type of soil. Dolomite limestone is not a fertiliser, rather it's a soil unlocker.  Dolomite is composed of calcium and magnesium. It helps break it up. Dolomite is slow acting, and therefore does not react against your manures. Spread it on liberally and dig it in.
Each one of these things would well, but if you combined some or all of them, it will work wonders.  Hope this helps.
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