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Clay soil, moist and soggy, tips and guidance to plant well nonetheless

Trench dug in clay soil

Enhancing clay soil that is often too soggy starts with proper identification of the issue.

Here is how to recognize the type of soil you have and what the options are to fix it.


Verifying that the soil is too full of clay

This is easy to see by how it looks.

Indeed, clay soil is usually very compact, dense soil, that is quite sticky and when you spade it, it comes in large clumps that are hard to break down. It’s quite similar to dirty Play-Dough when moist.

Usually this soil is extremely heavy and damp in winter, and in summer it tends to become very dry and will even split or crack.

How to make clay soil lighter

There are several different solutions that you can apply while spading your garden in fall or spring. You can try them one by one but it’s best to just do them all at once:

  • Add organic soil conditioner prepared from manure and seaweed to increase the microbial activity of the soil and fill it up with humus.
  • Add sand and soil mix to increase drainage and regulate water retention.
  • Lastly, mix some plant-based mulch into your soil, such as cocoa hulls, to make it lighter and more fertile.

How to get rid of stagnating water in winter

You can provide for drainage when planting by layering 1¼ to 1½ inches (3 to 4 cm) of clay pebbles or gravel along the bottom of planting holes. This keeps the roots from wallowing in moisture.

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