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It is mid-August and now is a great time to be doing some preparatory work with improving our clay heavy soil in the lawn or gardens.
Everyone who lives in Central Virginia knows all about our red soil. You can have all the best plants and the best tools but it won’t mean a thing if you have clay-heavy soil and don’t take steps to amend the soil before planting.
There is no reason to give up on gardening or suffer from plants that never reach their full potential because of the soil. All you need to do is follow a few, logical steps and you will have beautiful soil to work with when planting.
This month, your mission in preparing clay soil is in improving soil structure. I am not suggesting totally removing all the clay soil. Actually, clay soil has some redeeming qualities in that it is fairly fertile by retaining nutrients that our plants will need for growing and surviving. I am not advocating having “all foreign” soil. I am advocating amending the clay heavy soil with quality compost.
You want to modify your soil. The first way to modify your soil is to adjust the soil at each hole you dig for every plant. My blog for next week is going to be titled “A $100 HOLE FOR A $10 PLANT.” So, next week I will go into depth on how we need to properly plant in red clay in this area. But, in general, you always dig the hole twice the size of the root ball. Once you have dug the hole, you will want to use half of the red clay soil and blend it with good, quality compost. We sell LEAF-GRO COMPOST which is an excellent soil conditioner. Once you have the two blended together, you will use that mix to backfill the hole.
Another tip on planting that we recommend is to plant all plants high – meaning to have some of the root structure up out of the hole. This procedure will help to ensure better drainage. Remember this slogan “plant it high it won’t die.” A commonly used product to help with drainage is called PERMATILL. Permatill is slate that has been crushed into small pieces. Adding Permatill will help with the compaction of the red clay. Another bonus with Permatill is that it helps protect our plant roots from being eaten by Voles. Voles have sensitive pads on their feet and do not like to dig through soil that has Permatill.
So, if this blog is hitting home with you and what you face in your lawn and garden with clay heavy soil and you want beautiful gardens and healthy plants then remember, you still can!!! It will just take a few extra steps, but by doing so will enhance your gardens’ success and beauty.
HAPPY GARDENING AND REMEMBER “PLANT A LITTLE HAPPINESS”!!!