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Somewhat new to Albany

Posted by luvahydrangea Albany, NY Zone 5 (threehoffmans@nycap.rr.com) on
Sun, Sep 6, 09 at 20:04

Hello, I moved to Albany from Long Island 3 years ago. I've been in my home about 2 years and gardening the whole time. The soil here in Albany is very different than what I was accostomed to on Long Island which was sandy, loamy soil.

So the soil here seems to be clay and dry. To be honest, I'm not sure what I am supposed to be doing with the soil to make it easier to work with, so all I have really done is add compost, a lot of compost. I'm not sure if this is really helping. I'm seeing more worms than I did when I first started, so maybe it is.

Is this generally what people do here to improve the quality or workability of the soil? I would appreciate any advice about working with clay soil. I feel like every vegetable I have tried to grow has been a major fail, that may be due to the excessive rains in July. However, my flower garden seems happy. Also, are there any fertilizers that are recommended?

Thanks in advance!


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RE: Somewhat new to Albany

Hi there! I am about 3 hours west of you, on the eastern edge of the Fingerlakes region, but there is heavy clay soil here also, but on top of gravel, so it drains well. Compost is what has really worked for me, both homemade and what I have gotten from our municipal site. Also aged, hardwood mulch on the flowerbeds has impoved the tilth as it breaks down. I have had the most success with vegetables in raised beds. I don't have a large vegetable area (96 sq. ft. of growing space!), but plant it intensively. Initially, I filled the beds with anything I could get to raise the level to the top of the 8"--existing soil, compost, purchased garden soil, chopped leaves... Following that, I top them off every year from the compost bins in the spring and put chopped leaves on in the fall. The soil is very easy to work with in these beds.

One good thing about clay is that it tends to hold nutrients and moisture better than a sandy soil. The first thing I would do before adding fertilizers is to have the soil tested to see if it needs anything. You may very well have to adjust the pH. You can contact your local Cooperative Extension office to see what their process is to test.

I do whatever I can to garden organically, and truly believe that if you "take care of the soil, the soil will take care of the plants."

Good luck! Lois


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