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Beginner Gardening: Need a good soil recipe

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Forum: Beginner GardeningReplies: 10, Views: 114
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Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9a)

October 3, 2011
2:17 PM

Post #8834592

Hello, I'm getting ready to do some fall planting, however, I know my soil is in poor condition. My soil is all clay. It is as hard as a brick 6-8 inches down. I plan on turning the soil and adding some really good compost I purchased from Annie's annuals. I'm wondering if any of the more experienced gardners have anything else they would add the soil to help it stay light and fluffy during the rainy season we have coming up.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Rolesville, NC
(Zone 7b)

October 8, 2011
11:35 AM

Post #8840854

I'm not sure it will be available in your area but over here we use "soil conditioner" aka pine bark fines as a soil amendment for clay. It's a little bit chunkier in texture than compost.
Poughkeepsie, NY
(Zone 6a)

October 9, 2011
5:20 AM

Post #8841691

Some Perlite will help.
Owosso, MI
(Zone 5b)

October 9, 2011
6:58 AM

Post #8841793

In wondering what Pinebark fines were I searched and found this forum page and it was informative to me even telling you that you can get Pinebark fines at Lowes for 3.00 a 2 cu foot bag.
Latrobe, PA

October 17, 2011
9:10 PM

Post #8853504

Just plain river sand mixed in will make the soil light and its cheap! Adding fertilizer is your choice later.


central, NJ
(Zone 6b)

October 18, 2011
6:25 AM

Post #8853820

Won't adding sand turn the clay to cement????
Duluth, GA
(Zone 7b)

October 20, 2011
11:32 AM

Post #8857197

flowAjen wrote:Won't adding sand turn the clay to cement????

We do it all the time here in Georgia, as we also have the red clay.
And I have not experienced it turning into "cement" or getting any harder. If you see how hard this stuff is 12" below the ground you'll understand nothing can make it harder...
Adding sand will help with drainage and also will loosen up the soil to allow for root growth but I still think you should add some compost or some organic matter as form of nutrients, clay is very poor and I doubt that sand has any nutrients either.
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

October 20, 2011
7:01 PM

Post #8857629

If you had pure clay and added sand that might cause problems, but if there's organic material in there too (either stuff you added, or your soil's not pure clay) then you won't have trouble. Adding organic material is always a good idea.
Bozeman, MT

October 21, 2011
11:28 AM

Post #8858275

Hi. I just wanted to add my own experience in adding sand to clay.

I have amended some areas of very hard clay soil with nothing but sand. After doing so, I had read that adding sand to clay could make brick, so I was a little worried. But that has not been my experience.

The areas where I used sand to amend are pleasingly easy to work with and the plants seem very happy.


Rolesville, NC
(Zone 7b)

October 25, 2011
7:19 AM

Post #8862892

The problem with sand and clay is that they are both rock-based but most plants prefer a soil that has some amount of organic matter in it. I always use at least one organic soil amendment when I'm planting anythIng just to keep my bases covered.
Latrobe, PA

May 9, 2012
9:37 PM

Post #9118008

I like clay for man things. I have used strained clay soil mixed with sand, bought composted manure and perlite for transplants and it worked great! I strain the soil like clay and mix half with what ever I have even peat moss mixes great with clay!
I like clay because it holds the moisture. Dig a hole about a foot deep in your clay area and put papper wood shredded, wood ash leaves then cover with a foot of the clay mixed with sand and even pine chips and your soil will be great! You may be surprised that under the clay there may be ash that when mixed with the clay makes a good mix! My advie mix t with whateer you can get cheap or have alot of! River sand is rich in small pieces of leaves and mixes well with anything especially when you get it along a stream or river not the bought stuff! If you have pine trees around take 6 inches of that soil and mix it!

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