Return to the Potager Gardens Forum | Post a Follow-Up

clay soil 1 foot below the surface

Posted by luv_figs 10 (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 26, 11 at 16:07

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?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: clay soil 1 foot below the surface

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 =:)

RE: clay soil 1 foot below the surface

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 27, 11 at 16:15

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.

RE: clay soil 1 foot below the surface

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.

RE: clay soil 1 foot below the surface

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! :)

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Potager Gardens Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here