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growing vegetables in CLAY

 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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I have some areas that are clay...I also have raised beds and hugel beds..but that isn't what this thread is about, I want to have input on what will grow RIGHT IN THE SOLID CLAY..

I have been googling on line and the plants that I'm coming up with in my google search are as follows:
cabbage, chard, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potato (wouldn't have thought that one), beans, kale, peas, and squash (also wouldn't have thought that one).

I have been mixing some humus in the clay, it is in a small raised bed 16x4 and there were some branches and some non clay soil put in under the clay that got dumped on top by my husband with a head injury..so it is there and I need to work with it.

I also do food forest gardening, so it probably could support some smaller shrubs that don't take over in this garden, I am aware that roses do well in solid clay but I really don't need MORE roses, I have so many.

The THOUGHT right now is to do an area of kale or chard up on the center part of the bed (center is higher and both sides lower)..maybe some trellis area with some peas or beans and maybe drop in a few cabbages and possibly a small area of broccoli raab, and possibly a few summer squash hanging over the edges here and there..

suggestions greatly appreciated, will probably start the hardier crops this week?? (really warm here)
 
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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plant some sweet potato slips in the spring, let them go wild for a year and die in the next winter. next year you wont have clay soil anymore. if your soil is solid clay it may take 2 years. ive seen clay soil that is good for fired pottery turned into humus rich soil in 2 years from the method i mentioned. the tubers will break up the soil, and when the freeze and die add organic matter to the soil, the leaves and vines on top will die to a nice mulch blocking weeds before your planting.

also any tap rooted plant like radish, beet, carrot, etc...
 
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jerusalem artichoke ought to grow ok there. they do in the clay in the South. We always grew okra, beans, tomato, squash, and cantaloupe in red clay garden soil.
 
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Location: Brentwood, Tennessee, USA
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I like the idea of using sweet potato to convert the soil. I just read somewhere that it is a good cover crop and was thinking about using it anyway, but to use it as a cover crop and a soil converter...brilliant! Now to get some sweet potatoes without the anti-budding chemical.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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you need to be in areas with good winter cold. or else it will just come back. although that's not really a bad thing.
 
gardener
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I've had onions do decently in a clay soil but I'd suggest loading on the fertility if you want large onions.
 
Brenda Groth
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i have some sprouts from a sweet potato rooting here, went to cook it and it had some sprouts so I cut those off and put them in a pot..and they are still alive....I've never grown sweet potatoes here..in Michigan..just so cold..but I can give that a try..thanks.

I'm thinking Swiss chard with its humongous roots would do good and maybe Kale..it is warm enough here right now to plant things like "as soon as the soil can be worked" cold weather crops..so yesterday I stuck some kale seed out there along with some lettuces (mesclun mixes) sugar snap peas, podding radish and spinach. there is still a lot of room. I don't want to put jerusalem artichokes in there as I have too many of them growing now (nicely in clay yes and also in sand and loam and well they are all over)..

this bed is really too small to put too many large things in anyway..but I am thinking of possibly one shrub or vine..but that can wait until the clay is better conditioned.

Thanks for all the ideas.
gift
 
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