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HieI have been fighting the clay in my vegetable patch for over 10 years and although I've rough dig this year I don't think I'll be able to do it again.I've a rotovator but this doesn't go more than a few inches deep.Over the years I've added sand ,Horse manure and home made compost with no success .Should I give up and turf it or is there anything else I can do.Photos are attached
Patience and ever more manure and compost. Lay it on in thick layers in autumn and leave it over the winter for the worms and frosts to play with. It will get better and clay soil is very fertile.
I had clay soil with stones in it 20 years ago. It was a nightmare. I did what obelix said. You needs lots and lots of manure and compost and some sand as well. I've given up digging. I rotavate everything in in the spring, but only as deep as I can manage and now, and for the last few years the soil is almost lovely. Apart from runner beans, I don't think veg needs deeply dug soil. It hardly has time to root into it before you're cropping it. It likes it nice and fertile and loose on top, like in raised beds.
I have very heavy clay soil,the vegetable garden we have took years to get where it is to day and even then its still water logged at times.Its best not to dig it when its very wet but this year not much choice.We but lots of compost on and sorry(peat when it was still OK,we don't now) and the soil is really improved to what it was.My husband has just dug it over now and put compost on top,He did lime it once but not this year.I can see the difference as the flower garden I have not put so much in and it is really sticky.although I put seaweed and other feeds on its not as good.
Please don't give up and turf it - best time to dig is the autumn/winter (if not too wet- difficult this year) and no need to dig to any sort of tilth as frosts will break it down for you. But guessing you already know all this if you've been battling it for 10 years. We had clay in one of our garden and you do have my sympathy (I remember the aches and pains). If you do decide veg is too much work make the most of its fertility and plant some shrubs and perennials - much more colourful, interesting wildlife and environmentally friendly and no mowing!
Check out what the Organic Gardening Catalogue has because they offer a variety of different things to feed soil and make it more managable .Our soil is pretty heavy but regular manure really helps.Do you grow comfrey?That is a very good green manure.
I have clay soil. I dig it as little as possible and add any compost - from potss, bags whatever is available an area at a time. slowly I am beginning to see a difference. This morning I dug the front - an area not bothered with before and it made me realise just how much improvement there is in the back
I never deep dig, use one of those cultivaters you push in and turn. My veg are in raised beds.
It is hard work and a long term labour. I use the digging as a workout instead of going to the gym. The green gym is far better than the inside ones. Good luck.
We live in Rutland/Leic, and have very heavy stoney clay soil. Its been back breaking trying to dig and remove the stones and rocks not to mention washing our clothes, and boots because of the claggy sticky clay. Finally I spoke to a friend who has to deal with this problem as hes a landscaper for the rutland residents. He advised me to forget sand, and use PEA SHINGLE instead of sand, plus GRIT, COMPOST, and lots of MANURE. I was told that Pea shingle is by far much better than sand, and the best ingredient of all is patience...I know easier said than done, but I guess most of us agree with that statement. love your comment about the green gym bobloes!
In the 1970s I was a chimney-sweep, very few about these days as coal fires have gone out of fashion. However, I used to handle lots of soot. A local small nursery used to buy the soot from me at 50p a bag. He claimed soot was the best thing to use for breaking down clay and bought many pounds worth from me. I don't know how available it is to you, but try it if you are able.