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in Tools and techniques
As a former Dairy Goat farmer, I'm not used to hearing a lot of sense from a Billy Goat, but I thoroughly agree with that last post
Thought I'd pop back with an update.
I bought the 800W tiller in the end. Now it is in no way intended to do the job I asked of it, but I managed to get reasonable results.
The tiller made a real mess, but scraped the turf off in no time, then whilst trying to wrestle it to keep it in one place decided there was no chance it was ever going to make it's own way through the clay soil. A quick dig with a fork to start to loosen the clay and give the tiller something to get it's teeth into and the results were surprising. Okay, there were a few (actually a lot) of stones in the ground which did make a racket and occasinally need me to stop and pick them out. Within no time at all (except the occasional bounce when it hit a stone) the tiller was throwing out small pea size lumps of soil. Unfortunately my Wife and 2yr old came home at that point so I decided it best to put it away, never got the chance to get it going on incorporating some topsoil or farmyard manure.
Sadly it's rained pretty much every day this week so the ground is a real mess, but I was out there earlier and a quick turn over with a fork returned a still loose although clay-y bed. If the weather stays dry overnight and into the morning I might see how we go at getting some topsoil and manure into it.
Then just the small matter of the larger bed, the one I dug last week is a triangle with 2m diagonals, this next one is larger.
I'll have a look at the YouTube link to the tips and see how I feel about trying that method.
The only downside to the tiller is that it does make a mess, throws the soil everywhere, decided to get some marine ply cut to the same width/length as the paths around and between the veg patch so I can cover them and just tip the soil back in once tilled.
Thanks again for all the advice, I'll try and get some pictures up.
There used to be a product (probably banned now) that reversed the clay particles, clay if i remember corectly looks like millions of opened umbrellas. What this product did was turn about half of those opened umbrellas upside down so that stopped sticking together.
What a wonderfull picture of millions of tiny umbrellas - sounds like a magic trick.
There is still a product called clay breaker - http://www.vitax.co.uk/home-garden/vitax-clay-breaker/ - I had a read of the safety datasheet and it is just gypsum. Probably easier to buy this than gypsum though, someone has gone to the bother of pelletising it and giving useage rates.
Why clay breaker ? NO use compost and manure it will be better Terrier and believe me the frost will break down your clay plus you are adding organic matter to your soil which will only benefit your veg garden. Just dig it don’t even break it up with the fork the winter will do the rest also adding compost, Mulch even manure to the top will keep the weeds down.
Hi Terrier, we have just done the same sort of thing, ie scraped off lawn to make a new larger bed , its very heavy compact clay. broke my back digging with a fork and smashing the large lumps with a spade. Piled lots of well rotted horse dung and leaf mulch on top to let it do its thing. Its is now quite a good consistancy. the worms do a lot of the work! Good luck
I decided to be impatient and get the first of the beds finished today, a large bag of farmyard manure and 1 1/2 of top soil went in, had a play with the tiller, made a right bloody mess, but got the bed down to a good consistency, very few "clay" pieces larger than 2-3cm, mostly less than 1cm. Had bought some onions and garlic earlier in the autumn so needed somewhere to put them, couldn't be bothered with tubs.
As for the second (larger) bed, if it is not raining tomorrow I am going to go out and dig it with a fork/spade, just turning the turf in and cover with topsoil, manure and organic compost, give it a little mix and leave nature to it over winter.
I have the Wolf soil mill using it is similar to using a hoe, I don`t know why people are suggesting you need a large area to justify it.
Using it is very hard work on my heavy soil even when I catch it at just the right degree of dampness. Even a big professional 12hp rotovator is not a substitute for digging on clay soil.
As for diggin, I find that after the frost has broken up the dug soil to a fine tilth, the rain then puddles it and the sun bakes it into a pie crust.
I use a fork (dtich the spade on heavy clay - I have lost 4) to break up the soil. A pick axe is also good where needed and then I add materials.
Compost and manure will help as Clueless has said. The frosts do shatter clay. I also add in lots of perlite, bark chippings and grit. Forget sand as that and clay can make concrete in summer! It does improve.
I also tried trenching in scraps of food and garden waste, that attracts worms and they do a lot of backbreaking work for you for that waste!