We don’t have ideal soil – to put it mildly. It is heavy and has a high clay content; it’s muddy and slippery in winter, and sticks to rubber boots until we have clogs so heavy we can hardly lift our feet. Once the rainy season is over and it dries up, it becomes rock hard. Oh, and it’s also full of actual rocks, large and small, which makes clearing up space for a garden bed one challenging job. Using raised beds with imported high-quality soil has been great, but would I like to have friendlier soil all over our property? Sure!
Read more in my latest Mother Earth News post:
“Practically any soil – whether it’s sandy, or has a high clay content, or is somewhere in between – can benefit from generous amounts of organic material being worked into it. Back when we used to keep goats, there was a place in our yard with plenty of brush that needed to be cleared and I often tethered the goats there. Apart from the brush it was pretty arid, but next year, beautiful tall lush grass sprung up there as if by magic. It was goat manure, left over winter to rot and decompose, that did the trick.”
2 thoughts on “Improving your soil”
We have heavy clay soil as well. The first thing we did when we bought this home was lay out the garden. It was on a slope, so I made it into tiers, which ended up being a 3 year project, since the wall stones are not cheap, but I could fin some from time to time on the free sites here – craigslist, freecycle, etc – & while I dug some manure into the top tier, so we could use it that first year, the middle & bottom tier are where all the grass clippings from the lawn went, along with all weeds, & some leaves we raked in the fall.
Once I had the tiers in place, every fall they got a top dressing of well scrunched leaves, topped with grass clippings, topped with manure. A local stable let me haul for free. Since I don’t have a truck, I used trash bag liners in 5 gallon buckets, which kept the car clean & got the manure from point A to point B. I hauled the leaves the same way – in trash bag liners, in buckets. When a Starbucks coffee came to our town, I started picking up the free “grounds for gardeners” & sprinkled them over as well. Over the winter, under the snow, the worms did the rest.During the winter, I also tossed our empty eggshells onto the snow covering the garden. Int he spring, they were dry & easy to crumble into little calcium shards that the bugs did not like to crawl over.
It’s been 11 years now, & I have decent soil to work with in the garden now, & in the growing beds around the perimeter. Everything I added to the soil (leaves, grounds, manure, grass clippings) was free – it just took time to break down. The wall stones were an investment, & all of those were either free, or bought on sale, usually with a gift card I had requested for my birthday, or Mother’s Day, etc.
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Thanks for sharing your story of diligence and perseverance! And good for you on getting your soil in decent shape.