Sunday, July 6, 2008

How To Improve Clay Soil

I sure do know that we have clay based soil that we are trying to amend. I was reading Carla Emery's book this morning (Encyclopedia of Country Living) again (I am Always reading something from this awesome book).

Here's what she says about using buckwheat as a form of green manure....buckwheat should work very well for us as we have a shorter gardening season (Canada Zone 3). It matures real quick....

"Buckwheat grows especially well in moist, cool climates and cold areas, from Pennsylvania north into Canada. But is grows acceptably well in many other regions. Buckwheat is also a good grain choice if you have poor soil, especially if it's sticky, dense clay, because buckwheat roots break that up and make it loose. Buckwheat is not a good choice if you have nitrogen-rich soil. It will grow to tall and be likely to fall over. (p.156)"

We have always used fall rye as a green manure for the garden. We sow it in the fall and in spring, once growth starts again, we till it in. This has been a big help for us....we also use it in harvested areas of the garden during the gardening season.

This is our first try at using buckwheat, but I'm really hoping it is successful.We can either till it under to improve the soil, or we can harvest the grain after 90 - 110 days.....buckwheat pancakes, anyone??

There is a "grain quiz" in Carla's chapter on Grasses and Grains, and here's a bit more info on buckwheat.If you just plowed up a pasture and want a plant that can wipe out any grass trying to come back, which grain should you plant? ANSWER = Buckwheat

Which grain can you plant in your garden in July, on ground free-up by harvesting vegetables, that will give you a good crop before frost? ANSWER= Buckwheat

In addition to the buckwheat and rye, we add as much manure to the garden as possible....pig, chicken, horse. Adding old bedding from animal pens is done too, the hay/straw breaks down and adds to allow air into the soil.....

Each year the garden soil has improved....we can tell by the texture. It's lighter and fluffier than last year, and last year was better than the year before....the more compost, green manure, straw etc we add - the better the soil will become. Sphere: Related Content


Anonymous said...

I love your blog...reminds me of Alaska. If your soil is really nasty and clay-ey (is that a word?) you can also add gypsum.

Annie said...

Hi Sooz, thanks so much! Gypsum is a great idea for our soil, also newspapers (as long as they're not colour pics) will help too!

Do you have a blog I can go over and look at?

Annie and the Gman

Anonymous said...

No blog. Thought about it.
We lived in AK for 8 years. Loved it. Had a huge garden, dog team...the whole bit.
Your Wolf is beautiful.
Does the Gman hunt?
I'm in Nv now.

Annie said...

Hi Sooz...Your Alaska experience sounds wonderful! We would love to have a dog team one day, we go to the races to watch them. Our Wolf is half wolf, half Malamute and he is a wonderful companion.

Yup, the gman is already counting down the days until hunting season starts...hopefully he will be able to put a couple of deer in the freezer for us!

Have a great day,


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