clay soil 1 foot below the surface

luv_figsMarch 26, 2011


i live in southern california and i just moved into a new house. the had palm trees and a lot of other shrubs in the yard removed, and am deciding whether its worth the expense to build a raised bed or not. the top soil is good, but after 1 foot i see grey clay. i'm interested in planting tomatoes, zuchinni, eggplant, fig trees, and a persimmon tree.

should i be concerned about the clay underneath? if i build a raised bed, i will only be giving it one extra foot of dirt, so does it matter?



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Boy, I'd be so happy if our clay soil was a foot below the surface ! Our clay is much closer to the surface than that.

I personally think that the best thing you could do is start a compost pile, if that's something you'd be interested in. Organic matter is what's going to help you long term. I think that whether or not you build a raised bed for your vegetables is a matter of choice, not necessity.

Enjoy your new yard =:)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 4:56PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Agree that starting a compost pile is a good idea. Saw your other thread on purchasing compost and the person who responded offered good suggestions.

We built a 2 bin system a year before we started the veggie garden. Even at that we had to supplement with purchased soil for the first few years until the compost bin started producing enough. I've added it to every new bed I've created the past 20 plus years. I still have to deal with clay when turning new beds, but the compost does a great job breaking it down.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 4:15PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Clay under about a foot of soil is often refered to as "hard pan" because it can become rock solid when it dries out. I'm wondering if you have what is commonly called "builders clay" under your top soil? Do any of your neighbors garden? If so, ask what they have done. Sometimes clay like this is localized to an area and someone else has accomplished what you aim to do (mix it up).
Adding organic material is always good, but you need to find a way to get it into the clay and make a deeper loam.
We have red clay, and it takes so much work to get it into good garden soil in a short order that I simply made raised beds to get up and over the native soil. Clay itself isn't bad until it gets dry and cement like or so sticky, soggy and water logged that it is hard to grow in.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 5:25PM
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We hit clay about 10" down...and it's solid clay! Luckily, if we add enough aged horse manure, it seems to help the drainage...and the roots manage to get down through the clay, no problem!

Our clay is dark brown and very nice, but it's still clay. Lots of potential, but without amendments, it's slime in the early spring and looks like cracked cement, by July!

Best of luck with your garden...and talking to other gardeners in your area is a great idea! :)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 8:17PM
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