planting tomatoes in clay soil

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by greenqueen greenqueen 4 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #964
    greenqueen
    greenqueen
    Participant

    My sister-in-law is not a gardener but she does like to have a small herb garden and a few tomato plants. She already had a few scraggly looking plants in the ground but they were sitting in a crater and the ground looked kind of hard so I decided to replant them and bury the stems more. Imagine my surprise when the ground was like concrete! There are major globs of reddish orange clay in the soil and the whole garden area is totally hard packed. I spent 3 days digging and discarding the obvious clay. I have amended with mushroom compost, cow manure and some perlite. What else should I do?

    #987
    happychicken
    happychicken
    Participant

    Add Gypsum, not wall board but it is made from the same material. Be sure to wear a dust mask so you don’t breathe it. Look for garden gypsum and I like the kind that is in little pearls. I think they are called garden pearls. Follow the directions on the bag for quantity and make sure you mix it well with the top 8 inches of soil. It contains calcium so it is great for tomatoes. It will not immediately solve you problem however it will help with drainage. Add gypsum twice a year along with compost, etc. and eventually you will have the great dirt you want.

    #997
    LilyRose
    LilyRose
    Participant

    I would also suggest that you get the soil tested. Many agricultural extension offices offer soil testing. The simplest test is to find out what the PH is and there are many kits available to do this yourself. Most vegetables including tomatoes grow best about 6.5. With your situation I would invest in a more expensive test to find out if your soil has any nutritional deficiencies. Generally this test is less than $10 and you may need to pick up a soil testing kit from your extension office and mail it to a university.

    #1012
    greenqueen
    greenqueen
    Participant

    I took the advice from Lily Rose and Happy Chicken, dug out as much clay as possible, added peat and gypsum and planted her garden. This is what part of it looked like when I finished. I also dig soil samples from various parts in her yard. We made a visit to the local extension office and got soil sample kits and some wonderful advice from a master gardener. She suggested piling up oak leaves to decompose and after harvesting the tomatoes, mix in the partially decomposed oak leaves to further lighten up the soil.

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