The Benefits of Gardening with Clay Soil
Clay soil is considered the bane of gardening by many. It is characterized by a sticky texture when wet and often form hard clumps. In dry, hot weather, clay soil may exhibit deep cracks and can be very difficult to cultivate. If you have clay soil in your garden, take heart in the fact that with some hard work and improvisations, you can definitely improve the texture and workability of the soil. Clay soil is not without its benefits.
The denseness and viscosity of clay makes it a great tool for nutrient retention. Other soils such as sand are unable to hold on to nutrients, because the loose texture of the soil enables water to flow away easily. Clay holds on better to the applied fertilizers or organic matter, thereby resulting in improved nutrition for plants and reducing the need for reapplication.
Clay soil is dense and compact by nature. This property makes it hold on to water better. Water does not flow away easily and plants can benefit from the moisture retention. However, the water will evaporate over time and you must prevent the hardening and cracking of the soil by watering it as needed. Waterlogging can be a problem with clay soil and you can remedy it by improving drainage. Overall, improved water conservation is one of the bright aspects of gardening with clay soil.
Less Expenditure on Fertilizers
Clay soil is rich in a variety of minerals and nutrients that are beneficial to the growth of plants. It naturally contains calcium, potassium and iron, which are important nutrients for the growth of plants. In addition to the natural mineral content, the ability of the soil to conserve moisture and nutrients reduces the need for additional fertilizing. You can cut costs and save time because once you improve the texture of the clay soil, it will serve your plants well.
Density and Support
Clay soil consists of small particles that are similar in shape and fit together closely. This provides the soil a compactness and density that enables plants to stand stronger. Other soil types that are looser, such as sand, do not provide this stability and plants, especially young ones can keel over and collapse due to lack of support. The thick, compact texture of clay is also beneficial in improving the density of other soil types.
Benefits of Improvement
You can greatly improve the workability and texture of viscous clay soil by adding organic matter such as mature compost. Peat moss and composted bark are also good additions. You could also add rotted manure to the soil to improve it. Incorporate these materials thoroughly into the clay soil and mix well. Repeat applications a few times every year. It could take a few years to see a substantial improvement, but you will be rewarded with a soil that is workable and also has all the natural benefits of clay.