Archives for posts with tag: Clay

These last few days have been good for digging – snow and a cold crust on the muddy clay. It’s supposed to get warm and mucky again, so dig while the frost sprinkles!

The deer have been digging too.

They have gotten through or over the fencing some how, and have found the remaining beets, chard and cabbage. That’s OK – they’re too small and skrawny to worry anout.

Another crop circle is turned over and ready for the cold weather of winter to break up the structure of the clods of clay into fine loamlike vegetable soil. 

 

I was waiting for it to dry out a bit before finishing the drainage ditch, but with a lot of rain and then snow coming I got it done.

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I put drainage pipe in the new ditch connecting it to the existing drainage pipe. Then I put in gravel, boards and covered it with dirt. The clay was really mucky and impossible to stamp in, so I just piled it on. It will probably take a couple of years to settle, and I’ll have to add more later.

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The pumpkin patch – a picture from yesterday.

The pumpkins and maize are all harvested and put away. The vines and stalks are all cleaned out and put on the compost except for the sunflowers which remain for the birds. Now the digging for winter gets going.

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We did have a powdering of snow last night and the ground is a bit frozen after several frosty nites and cold days, but it is still soft underneath and easy to dig. The boots and shovel don’t get caked in mud now either.

As I’ve said before, the digging is to turn over the clay soil, aerating it and exposing it to freezing which breaks down the structure of the clay making it more tillable. That is, the soil becomes easier to work with in the spring, has better drainage and is a better growing medium for the crops.

Next year this will be a vegetable patch and the pumpkin/maize/sunflower patch rotates to the next crop circle.

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As soon as I harvest in the fall I start digging for the winter. I turn over the soil one spade deep in all the gardens except where there are perennials. It is necessary to expose the clay soil to the frost of winter which breaks down the clayey structure leaving the dirt very plyable and easy to till in the spring when it dries out.

It also makes weed control easier, and control of such plants as raspberries which have the tendency to spread by root shoots.

After all the rain it is a heavy job, but easier when a thin layer of frost makes the clay less sticky. I’m often not done until Christmas.

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The old Agria tiller has been taken out of service. It was too difficult to move and start, so we got a new Husqvarna tiller together with the neighbors. Now all the garden spaces are tilled. If weeds take over before we get everything in the ground we may have to till some areas again.

Tilling the ground that has been turned the previous fall and now covered in compost loosens up the heavy clay soil we have here. It also mixes in the compost and aerates the soil. This gives me the tilth I want.

After tilling I threw up 7 planting beds and sowed carrots, onions, parsnips, spinach, dill, daikon, purslane and parsley.